Norway comes down on tobacco. The next step from the nanny state government of Norway in its attempt to be the toughest European country on tobacco is on social media and webshops.
No more pictures
The Norwegian government has decided that Norwegian retailers and distributors cannot publish pictures on their website or on social media anymore. But not posting new photo’s isn’t enough. All the pictures they ever posted on any social media have to be removed. Any picture with tobacco posted by retailers or distributors is considered advertising effective immediately.
The distributor and retailer Augusto Cigars has filed a lawsuit against the Norwegian government. Not for the social media regulations but to be able to allow pictures on their webshop. Their reason is that foreign webshops post pictures and target Norwegian consumers. It creates smuggling, illegal imports and unfair competition for the Norwegian cigar distributors and retailers. But as a spokesman for Augusto said, this is only delaying the inevitable.
Coming down strong
In the past, nobody complained and it tobacco posts on social media was a low priority for Norwegian law enforcement. But that has changed. And they come down hard. The new EU directives give the Norwegian authorities the power to force internet providers and social media platforms to shut down pages and websites.
The Norwegian authorities pride themselves to be the toughest European country on tobacco. They battle Ireland for that title, and the EU regulations give them the freedom to do so. With Ireland and Norway taking this stance, it will probably spread all over Europe. The EU regulations leave room for each and every member to create exemptions. Some countries do for premium cigars, others like Norway, Ireland, and The Netherlands don’t. Our expectation is that The Netherlands will follow the Norwegian authorities soon, as they are very strict as well. Cubacigar Benelux tried to fight some of the legislation, yet lost their case.