Advertising Laws For E-cigs In The UK
Advertising Laws For E-cigs In The UK
As many people well know, many of the most conspicuous forms of tobacco advertising have been banned in the UK. With the passing of TAPA (the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002), laws keeping tobacco companies from advertising their products on billboards and in print media were enacted in 2003.
By December of 2004, restrictions on advertising at the point of sale had been enacted as well, as were restrictions on direct-marketing tactics. Of course, tobacco advertisement through the television and the radio were prohibited by the Broadcasting Acts of 1990 and 1996 and by the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive. (source: http://ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_124.pdf).
But what about electronic cigarettes? Are they subjected to similar restrictions, or is the electronic market a different playing field where advertisement is concerned?
Electronic Cigarettes and Advertisement
As it turns out, many of the rules that apply to cigarettes do not directly apply to electronic cigarettes. Of course, E-cigs do not contain tobacco… nor do they create smoke.
There is also no ‘fire’ involved in the use of E-cigs. They operate by the activation of a battery, which causes an element within them to gently ‘vapourize’ a flavoured e-liquid. E-cigs do often contain nicotine, but it is clear that they are not a tobacco product… and that puts them into a different category.
Interestingly, it has been decided in the UK that E-cigs cannot be advertised as a smoking cessation product or as a nicotine replacement product. With that being said, however, there is no reason for why electronic cigarettes cannot be advertised through TV… a fact that many Brits likely figured out when the very first tobacco company advertisements in years began to air on UK airwaves… advertising not cigarettes, but E-cigs.
What Are The Regulations?
While E-cigs can and are being advertised with nearly every medium available, there are definitely a few rules that electronic cigarette companies need to adhere to. According to the Committee of Advertising Practice Ltd. (source: http://www.cap.org.uk/Advice-Training-on-the-rules/Advice-Online-Database/Electronic-cigarettes.aspx), there are a few general guidelines that are important for E-cig companies to pay attention to. Here is a list of some of the more important rules regarding the advertisement of E-cigs…
- E-cigs that contain nicotine and that are not licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency cannot claim or imply that the E-cig in question can act as a smoking cessation device.
- E-cigs cannot be marketed as ‘healthier than smoking tobacco, risk free, or harmless’ unless robust clinical evidence of these facts can be produced to support the claims.
- Advertisements must make it clear that E-cigs contain nicotine (if the product does).
Of course, the UK is not the only country discussing the need to tighten restrictions on the advertising practices used to market electronic cigarettes.
In fact, in the US, it was proposed by a group of ‘urban health officials’ that the FDA should extend the same strict advertising rules to E-cigs that have been enacted on tobacco cigarette products… though there is no indication at this point that the FDA is considering making such a move.
As of right now, regulations surrounding US E-cig advertisements are relatively lax.
Should E-cigs Be Treated Like Conventional Cigarettes For Advertising Purposes?
This is a good question. Of course, in all fairness, it is true that E-cigs do not contain tobacco, do not produce smoke, do not produce ash, and do not utilize fire. As stated earlier, they simply employ a battery that heats an element to gently ‘vapourize’ a flavoured E-liquid.
There are some opponents of E-cigs who claim that allowing E-cigs to be advertised on TV will ‘glamorize’ them and potentially cause more younger people to become attracted and addicted to the habit… but up until now, regulations have not kept E-cig commercials from appearing on the television airwaves.