Three adverts for e-cigs have been banned from British TV by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) on the grounds that they glamourise tobacco, despite not being a tobacco product. The ruling came just over a month after the first ‘vaping’ advert was aired.
Two of the adverts, both made by VIP electronic cigarettes, drew over 200 complaints. Neither show regular tobacco cigarettes being smoked. Nonetheless, the Agency ruled that the adverts indirectly glamourized smoking and were therefore unsuitable for British television under existing rules, City AM has reported.
Before the original vaping advert was aired, The Committee of Advertising Practice drew up a list of six requirements that it and any other vaping adverts would need to meet. They stipulated that the adverts must be “socially responsible” and not “feature characters that are likely to resonate with youth culture or appeal to under 18s”; they must not include “the use of a tobacco product”; must not “contain health or medicinal claims”; and that they must not “claim or imply that the product can act as a smoking cessation device”, nor “undermine the message that quitting tobacco use is the best option for health”.
In addition, the Committee also advised that adverts must state that the products contain nicotine, if applicable, and could not make claims that e-cigarettes can be used anywhere.
A spokesman for the ASA said: “We considered that the manner in which the vapour was exhaled and the heightened focus on this action created a strong association with traditional tobacco smoking.
“Because the ads presented it, as the central focus of the ads, in a sultry and glamorous way, we considered that they indirectly promoted the use of tobacco products.”
A third advert, made by VIP electronic cigarettes was also banned after attracting seven complaints, on the grounds that it promoted e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking regular tobacco products. “We considered that the man’s statement could encourage non-smokers to take up using e-cigarettes and we therefore concluded the ad was irresponsible”, the ASA said.
But campaigners have pointed out that part of the appeal of e-cigarettes is that they offer a tobacco free alternative to smokers who want to quit. They accused the ASA of overstepping their remit in order to affect the behaviour of the public.
Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, told Breitbart London: “The rules on e-cigarette advertising were relaxed to encourage their use by existing smokers.
“The great appeal of e-cigs to many smokers is the fact that they replicate the act of smoking. To encourage smokers to switch advertisers must be allowed to show people exhaling vapour. Failure to do so will greatly reduce their effectiveness.
“The ASA has no right to ban an advertisement on the spurious grounds that, indirectly, this may encourage people to smoke tobacco. Where’s the evidence this is happening? There isn’t any.
“Not for the first time an unelected, out of touch quango has sided with public health zealots whose primary interest is controlling our behaviour and restricting our freedom to choose between a range of legal consumer products.
“I hope the e-cigarette companies appeal this ridiculous decision and win.”