THREE television ads for e-cigarettes have been banned just weeks after new rules came into effect allowing people to be shown using the devices.
Two commercials for Must Have, which trades as VIP Electronic Cigarettes, showed a woman exhaling vapour – or “vaping” – while a voiceover stated: “Find out why 89 per cent of our consumers said they preferred VIP over other brands,” and “The great taste of VIP”.
The Adverting Standards Authority (ASA) received 199 complaints from 187 viewers and organisations such as Ash (Action on Smoking and Health), the Association of Directors of Public Health UK and the British Medical Association.
They raised concerns that the ads glamorised the smoking of tobacco products through their depiction of the woman and were irresponsible because they were likely to have particular appeal to people aged under 18 and encouraged non-smokers to use e-cigarettes.
Must Have said the ads stated that the product was an e-cigarette, which it believed was sufficient to make clear that it was not a tobacco product that was being promoted.
The ASA noted that the product did not resemble a traditional cigarette and the ads did not use terminology associated with tobacco products, instead referring to “e-cigarettes” and “e-liquids”.
But it said the commercials consisted primarily of a close-up of a woman’s face as she used the product, while her long dark hair and dark eye make-up gave her a glamorous look and the intimacy of the shot drew particular attention to her mouth and the vapour.
The ASA did not find that the ads were unlikely to have any particular appeal to people under 18 and said there was no “explicit encouragement” to non-smokers or non-nicotine users to use e-cigarettes.
It ruled that the ads must not appear again in their current form, adding: “We told VIP Electronic Cigarettes to ensure their ads did not promote the use of tobacco products.”
In a separate ruling, the ASA banned a Vape Nation commercial for encouraging ex-smokers to use e-cigarettes.
Vape Nation said the ad was aimed at current smokers and did not sell directly to viewers or encourage non-smokers to take up e-cigarettes.
The ASA said the vast majority of the dialogue positioned the product as one of interest to current smokers, but consumers were likely to understand that the man who said he had quit was therefore a non-smoker who had subsequently taken up using KiK e-cigarettes.
It ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form and told Vape Nation not to encourage ex-smokers or non-nicotine-users to use e-cigarettes.