The Next Frontier in Tobacco Marketing: The Metaverse, NFTs, Advergames and More

11 November, 2023

A new report from the Tobacco Enforcement and Reporting Movement:

The Next Frontier in Tobacco Marketing: The Metaverse, NFTs, Advergames and More

'Marketers of unhealthy products reach two-thirds of the global population by exploiting an underregulated online environment (1). Unhealthy commodities like tobacco are regularly promoted on digital media platforms, which include social media, video streaming platforms, podcast hosting platforms and mobile apps, among others.1 This marketing is highly effective because it is ubiquitous, interactive and often personalized. Next-generation digital technologies—such as virtual reality, augmented reality and blockchain technology—and the growth of new digital spaces like the metaverse will offer evolving opportunities to promote and sell tobacco. They will present new challenges for addressing the public health effects of tobacco....'

'Tobacco is promoted online via a range of marketing tactics. Avenues for promoting tobacco are restricted in traditional media but with ongoing innovations in digital tools, new forms of marketing have emerged and existing forms have evolved...'

'Tobacco is already being promoted using next-generation internet tools, such as nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and the metaverse...'

'Recommendations for governments: Prohibit all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship on all media platforms, as recommended by the World Health Organization. The policy should broadly and comprehensively define marketing and types of media to include the latest tactics and forms of media described in this report, including those based on newer technologies...'

COMMENT (NPW): The report does not elaborate on the role of governments to ensure that every individual, and especially young people, truly understand the harms of smoking and e-cigarettes. Current understanding is woefully inadequate. Better health education of children and young people is needed.

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: