E-cigarette advertising cannot target young people under tighter rules

New regulations from the Committees of Advertising Practice aim to ensure that e-cigarette products are promoted responsibly.

New advertising rules for e-cigarettes aim to ensure that young people are not targeted

Electronic cigarettes must not be targeted at young people and non-smokers, under new advertising rules established to ensure the products are promoted responsibly.

The tougher rules, published by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), will come into effect on 10 November 2014 and will apply to advertisements on any type of media.

Until now, e-cigarette advertising has only been governed by general rules covering misleading claims, harm, offence and social responsibility, and has not been subject to product specific rules.

Under the new rules, e-cigarette advertisements must not aim to appeal specifically to people aged under 18 years by reflecting or being associated with youth culture, or through the media or context in which they appear.

People shown using e-cigarettes or playing a significant role must not look under 25 years of age, and advertisements on television and radio will be subject to scheduling restrictions to reduce the chance of them being seen or heard by children.

Claims that e-cigarettes are ‘safer’ or ‘healthier’ than smoking tobacco will not be allowed, unless manufacturers obtain an authorisation for their product from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Advertisements must not encourage non-smokers or non-nicotine users to use e-cigarettes and must make it clear that the product is an e-cigarette and not a tobacco product.

Advertisements will not be able to show anything that promotes the use of a tobacco product in a positive light. However, while actual depictions of e-cigarettes have previously been banned from television advertisements, from November 2014 actual e-cigarettes will be permitted to be displayed on all media platforms.

Planned government legislation to control the promotion of e-cigarettes is not expected to come into effect until 2016, and so CAP wanted to establish a responsible framework for UK advertising of the product in the meantime. 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 18 October 2014, Vol 293, No 7832;293(7832):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20066764

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