The ASA upheld a decision today concerning a campaign for e-cigarettes brand "Leolites" featuring the slogan: "E-CIGARETTES HAVE EVOLVED. LEOLITES.COM. LOVE YOUR LUNGS."
The ASA considered that this slogan would likely be viewed by consumers to be a positive health claim, and judged it to be misleading. The brand owner contested this, and held that the slogan makes no reference to any health claim, and that the phrase "love your lungs" does not imply giving health benefit to the consumer. It argued that: "common sense showed that 'Love Your Lungs' should not be taken as an implication that the product was harmless or beneficial to health". The ASA disagreed, noting that: "consumers, particularly those who were existing smokers, were likely to interpret the claim 'Love Your Lungs' as meaning that Leolites e-cigarettes contained properties that were not harmful to their lungs or that they would experience an improvement in the health of their lungs if they used Leolites products".
The ASA also considered the phrase "e-cigarettes have evolved" in the slogan, and found that the wording of the slogan could be seen to suggest that the Leolites product is less harmful to users' lungs than competing e-cigarette or tobacco brands. As a result, The ASA found the ad to be in breach of the CAP code on the grounds of misleading advertising. The ad must not appear in its current form.
E-cigarettes is a growing industry and advertisers of these products are facing increasing regulatory scrutiny. We have seen a number of adverse adjudications on the subject so far, and as e-cigarette advertising becomes all the more commonplace, we should expect to see a lot more cases like this in the future. Following CAP's consultation on e-cigarettes earlier this year, the industry is still waiting for further guidance and potentially new rules for advertisers.