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Italy fines BAT, Amazon over heated tobacco ads

February 15, 2024

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

Italy’s competition authority on Wednesday fined British American Tobacco’s Italian division €6 million (£5.13m) and Amazon €1m for misleading advertising of a heated tobacco product.

The AGCM watchdog said the companies advertised BAT’s Glo Hyper X2 and Glo Hyper Air devices without making clear “information about the tobacco / nicotine consumption connected to the use of these devices and the prohibition of their sale to minors”.

It said the products were marketed “as simple electronic devices and mere design objects”, with adverts focusing on the aesthetics and ignoring the fact they involve consuming tobacco.

“This is seriously misleading conduct which induces the customer to buy a product that poses health risks and is banned for minors,” the authority said.

Both BAT Italia and Amazon.it – the Italian branch of the US giant implicated as the online seller – strongly contested the fines, which came after an investigation launched last year.

“We will appeal,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement.

“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.”

It added: “We’ve made this information even clearer for customers to address the authority’s concerns.”

BAT said it too intended to appeal.

“We have always provided adequate information on the fact that our products are aimed exclusively at adult smokers,” it said in a statement.

It said it had also already implemented changes in response to the authority’s concerns.