E-cigs can appear in TV ads, watchdog rules

Expect to see a rash of advertising for electronic cigarettes from next month, following a new ad watchdog ruling, which will come into force on 10 November.

Ruling last Friday (October 10) for the first time specifically on e-cigarettes, the Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) said adverts must not target under-18s or non-smokers, and must not show tobacco “in a positive light”.

While the advertising of e-cigarettes on TV is currently allowed, the e-cig itself must not appear on screen.

The committee said the new rules would be reviewed after a year.

A CAP spokesman said e-cigarettes were previously “caught” by rules banning (except in trade press titles such as Wholesale News) all advertising of tobacco products; these rules were written before e-cigarettes existed and, because they [e-cigs] were held and used like cigarettes, this meant advertising for brands was allowed, e-cigarettes themselves could not be shown on screen.

The new rules state that adverts must not:

  • be “likely to appeal particularly to people under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture”
  • encourage non-smokers to use e-cigarettes
  • claim e-cigarettes are “safer” or “healthier” than smoking tobacco
  • make any health claims without approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

The CAP said a consultation before the new rules were created took into account a range of views about e-cigarettes and their “potential to re-normalise smoking, as well as the case being made for their public health benefits”.

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