Last week the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) announced relaxed regulations for advertising e-cigarettes through television broadcasting. From November, advertisers will be able to show their e-cigarette products on television having previously been banned from doing so. The introduction of the new rules has largely been welcomed with many finding previous rules unclear and inconsistent. Health charity, Ash, claimed it was satisfied with the news overall but disappointed that celebrity endorsement and the offering of free samples had eluded tighter regulation.
This change will mean that broadcasting regulations mirror the less restrictive rules on advertising e-cigarettes across all other media platforms. However, advertisers are prohibited from targeting children and young adults with bans on the usage of anyone under the age of 25 enjoying such a product or indeed playing a significant role during an advert, and on any association of e-cigarettes with current youth culture. In addition, brands may not use advertising to encourage non-smokers or non-nicotine users to buy their product.
The advertising sector has been keeping a close eye on developments regarding e-cigarettes over the course of 2014 with ReactS reporting on the ASA's ban of a Leolites advert in August. With the rules on television ads to be aligned with those across other forms of media, TV adverts for products which either claim that their product has health benefits or imply that this is the case (as Leolites' slogan did), and are not licensed as medicine for nicotine replacement therapy will similarly be forbidden.
Nevertheless, watch this space, since rules are expected to be tightened in the future as the EU prepares to announce controversial legislation which will add further scrutiny to potentially noxious e-cigarette promotion.