Snus: Marketing to Youth

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Norway: Increase in Young People Using Snus

Image 1. Print advertisement for Parliament snus screengrab from http://www.webcitation.org/68l7MRfq3 (archived webpage)

A 2015 briefing by Euromonitor International reported that Norway had seen a sharp increase in snus use amongst young people, which has been attributed by the Norwegian government to marketing by the tobacco industry:

“According to the Minister Health and Care Services, the growth in snus usage among young people began after the snus industry began developing snus boxes with new designs, new colours and flavourings such as vanilla, menthol and liquorice which ‘appeal to young people’.”1

On 1 July 2017, Norway introduced plain packaging on snus products, with a one -year transition period.2 Swedish Match filed a court case against the Norwegian government, but lost the case in November 2017.3

Russia: Snus Targeted at the Young and Wealthy

In September 2012, the academic journal Tobacco Control published a news story which provided details of a proposed marketing strategy for Parliament snus in Russia.4

In December 2011 SMPM International, the joint venture between Philip Morris International (PMI) and Swedish Match, commenced a trial market of Swedish snus in Russia, following earlier test markets in Taiwan in 2009 and Canada in 2010. Three snus varieties were introduced under PMI’s premium cigarette brand Parliament, which has a strong presence in Russia. A few months earlier, Swedish Match’s CEO Lars Dahlgren had informed investors that the launch would be supported by a number of marketing activities, including brand building and sampling, considering that “marketing restrictions Russia are not as strict as they have been for us in the Taiwanese market and the Canadian market”.5

Image 2. Parliament snus display from http://www.webcitation.org/68l7MRfq3 (archived webpage)

In June 2012, a marketing campaign for PMI’s Parliament branded snus, by advertising firm Proximity Russia, was cited on Behance.net, an online network that showcases professional creative work.6 Proximity Russia’s brief was “to launch in the Russian market a new category of tobacco product targeted at wealthy audience, operating in the context of dark market”. With the brief in mind, Proximity developed print advertisements depicting well-dressed young adult males (Image 1), stylish product display units (Image 2), and a product website (www.snus.ru) which was open to registered users only. Furthermore, the proposed marketing strategy included “youth engagement materials” and the use of attractive and successful looking young adults, referred to as the “snus envoy”, recruited to promote Parliament snus (Image 3).

Similar techniques were used in the mid-1980s by United States Tobacco Company (UST) when it attempted to introduce smokeless tobacco product Skoal Bandits in Europe, by paying college students to promote Skoal Bandits amongst their peers.78

Taken together, this indicates that, contrary to the industry argument that snus should be legalised in the EU to offer smokers a less harmful tobacco alternative to cigarettes,910 snus may be promoted in new markets to young adults and non-tobacco users. This is in line with evidence from the United States, which has an established smokeless tobacco market, and where tobacco industry marketing messages have been used to promote dual use of smokeless tobacco and cigarettes, and encourage smokeless tobacco uptake by young non-tobacco users.11121314

Image 3: Parliament snus targeting young people through use of brand ‘ambassadors’ from http://www.webcitation.org/68l7MRfq3 (archived webpage)

TobaccoTactics Resources

TCRG Research

References

  1. D. Hedley, What’s Happening in Tobacco- February 2015. Opinion 4 March 2015 (behind paywall)
  2. Helsedirektoratet, Tobacco Control in Norway, last modified 10 January 2019, accessed November 2019
  3. Swedish Match loses Norway court case on snus packaging, Reuters, 6 November 2017, accessed November 2019
  4. S. Peeters, K. Evans, Russia: snus targeted at young & wealthy, Tobacco Control, 2012; 21:456-459
  5. Thomson Reuters, Q3 2011 Swedish Match AB Earnings Conference Call Transcript. 2011
  6. Philip Morris Russia/ Snus by Parliament Launch Campaign, accessed June 2012
  7. BATCo Press Cutting Index, 1985, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 107356909-107356927, accessed November 2019
  8. United States Tobacco International Incorporated and Another v British Broadcasting Corporation – Judgment, 1988, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 301132000-301132039, accessed November 2019
  9. PMI, Philip Morris Limited’s Response to the Department of Health’s Consultation on the Future of Tobacco Control. 2008
  10. J. Williamson, C. Proctor, Should the Health Community Promote Smokeless Tobacco (Snus): Comments from British American Tobacco. PLoS Medicine, 2007;4(10)
  11. G.N. Connolly, The marketing of nicotine addiction by one oral snuff manufacturer.Tobacco Control, 1995; 4:73-79
  12. C.M. Carpenter, G. N. Connolly, O. A. Ayo-Yusuf, G. F. Wayne, Developing smokeless tobacco products for smokers: an examination of tobacco industry documents.Tobacco Control, 2009;18(1):54-59
  13. H.R. Alpert, H. Koh, and G.N. Connolly, Free nicotine content and strategic marketing of moist snuff tobacco products in the United States: 2000-2006. Tobacco Control, 2008;17(5):332-338
  14. A. B. Meija, P.M. Ling, Tobacco Industry Consumer Research on Smokeless Tobacco Users and Product Development. American Journal of Public Health, 2010;100(1):78-87