Italian watchdog turns heat up on BAT and Amazon over tobacco ads

Image edited with Canva
Image edited with Canva Copyright Canva
By Greta Ruffino
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Italy's competition watchdog, AGCM, fines BAT and Amazon €7 million for deceptive advertising on heated tobacco products.

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Italy's competition watchdog has fined British American Tobacco (BAT) €6 million and Amazon €1 million respectively for what it describes as misleading advertising related to heated tobacco products. 

The advertisement failed to provide sufficient information to consumers about the nicotine content and health risks associated with using the Glo Hyper X2 and Glo Hyper Air products, watchdog AGCM said.  

"The Glo Hyper X2 and Glo Hyper Air were not advertised in a truthful and adequately informative manner for consumers," AGCM said in a statement.

"The two main usage warnings, namely that these products are harmful to health due to the presence of nicotine in the tobacco sticks to be used with the devices, and that they are not intended for use by minors, were not properly conveyed."

It also emphasised that the advertisement represents "misleading conduct," leading consumers to buy a product that presents "health risks and is prohibited for minors."

AGCM said Amazon was implicated because it sells the products directly on its online platform and promoted Glo Hyper X2 on Amazon.it.

The Italian antitrust regulator initiated its investigation in April 2023. The items are now sold with the caution: "Not for sale to minors. This product, when used with related tobacco or nicotine sticks, cartridges or refills is not risk-free and provides nicotine."

A spokesman for Amazon told Euronews: "We strongly disagree with the conclusions of the Italian Consumer Protection Authority and we will appeal. 

"The ICA's claims are incorrect in both fact and law. The description of our products includes reference to age restrictions and health-related risks for the purchase of these products. We have worked closely with the ICA throughout this case and we've made this information even clearer for customers to address the Authority's concerns."

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