YouTube Updates Advertising Policy to Block Tobacco Content

YouTube Updates Advertising Policy to Block Tobacco Content

Several weeks ago, Tobacco Business Magazine reported on the more than 125 health organizations that were putting pressure on various social media platforms to address the promotion of tobacco use and products on their respective sites [read more here]. Now some social media influencers are starting to feel the pressure as social media video platform YouTube begins to take on tobacco content on its site.

One popular YouTuber, Outlaw, described how some of his tobacco-related videos, were deleted by YouTube without warning.

“Me being one of the biggest social media influencers in the tobacco world, I have been hit pretty dang hard in the last couple weeks,” he says in a video posted on June 17, 2019. “It’s funny because [on] Twitter you’re allowed porn on there but if I have some picture that has to deal with tobacco, it gets taken down. Instagram, I’ve had just random stuff … I’ve had a picture of a dip can and then for some reason it got taken down because it got flagged.”

Now, YouTube has updated its advertiser-friendly content guidelines to address the different types of content that will receive limited or no ads. This policy is written for users who are looking to monetize their YouTube channels by allowing ads to run periodically throughout the ad. Monetization is a key resource for many social media influencers and businesses that have big audiences. YouTube has deemed a number of examples as content that they find is not suitable or ads and will from here on be limited in the ads they are able to run in their content, if not being prohibited from running ads entirely. Some of the examples provided were hateful content, adult content, violence, firearms-related content, controversial issues and sensitive events, adult themes in family content and anything tobacco-related.

Further down in its updated policy, YouTube writes that content that promotes tobacco and tobacco-related products is not suitable for advertising. Videos that promote tobacco such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and cigars are deemed unsuitable. Videos that promote tobacco-related products including tobacco pipes, rolling papers and vape pens are also unsuitable. Finally, videos that promote products designed to stimulate tobacco smoking, including herbal cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vaping are not suitable. These videos will not have limited or no ads, taking away a revenue stream for some of these individual users and businesses.

This new policy addresses most tobacco products and those that are being regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. YouTube isn’t banning tobacco-related videos; they are simply YouTube less profitable for tobacco users and businesses. These same users can get around this policy if they sourced their own advertisers and worked the ads directly into their videos; they simply cannot rely on YouTube’s own advertising platform now to do the work for them to monetize their channels. Whether or not this will make YouTube less appealing to tobacco users, however, is questionable.

You can view YouTube’s updated advertiser-friendly content guidelines in its entirety by clicking here.