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Italy probes BAT over heated tobacco ad

April 19, 2023

glo devices being tested in laboratories at BAT's global R&D centre in Southampton, UK

Italy’s competition authority said Tuesday it was investigating British American Tobacco’s Italian division and online giant Amazon for alleged misleading advertising of a heated tobacco product.

The watchdog said publicity for BAT’s Glo Hyper X2 device omitted information or provided “misleading information about the health risks of the use of the product, and the prohibition on its use by minors”.

Heated tobacco products, or HTPs, use a high heat to decompose tobacco, via a process called pyrolysis, which does not set it on fire or burn it, therefore avoiding creating smoke.

The Glo Hyper X2 was launched last July, pitched as a “reduced-risk product” for adult smokers who want to give up cigarettes.

The Italian watchdog noted that tobacco contains nicotine, “a substance which has the capacity to cause addiction and which, in high concentrations, is harmful to health”.

But it said promotional materials for the Glo Hyper X2 do not properly explain “that its use involves the emission of nicotine – in some messages, it is even explicitly stated that consumption is ‘without nicotine’.”

Reuters found an offer for Glo Hyper X2 on Amazon Prime Italy presenting the product as “the cigarette alternative, a smokeless and odour-free experience, nicotine-free”.

An accompanying image had a “no under 18s” symbol.

A spokesperson for BAT said the company was committed to “responsible marketing”, in addition to the requirements set by local applicable laws.

“We are available to cooperate with the Italian Competition Authority to ensure a swift conclusion of these proceedings”, the spokesperson added.

Amazon.it, the Italian branch of the US giant, is implicated in the probe as the online seller.

Amazon Italia did not respond to a request for comment.