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adverts banned again

It didn't take very long for the UK Advertising Standards Administration to ban selected e-cig adverts under the new “permissive” guidelines. It is now permissible to advertise vaping products on the telly, but one must walk a very careful line.


VIP e-cigs got two of its spots canned after 199 complaints were received. The objection was that the shots showing the exhalation of vapour looked as though they were presenting smoking as acceptable behavior. Adverts for the VIP brand “Must Have” showed a woman exhaling vapor in a way that tended to “glamourise” smoking, in the eyes of the ASA.


"We considered that the manner in which the vapour was exhaled and the heightened focus on this action created a strong association with traditional tobacco smoking. Because the ads presented it, as the central focus of the ads, in a sultry and glamorous way, we considered that they indirectly promoted the use of tobacco products." Earlier ads for VIP were charged with more serious accusations of a blatantly salacious pitch.


VIP countered that the spot clearly stated that the vapour was from an e-cigarette, not a combustible tobacco product, but to no avail. The adverts were canned anyway.


Some of the complaints came from organizations such as Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the British Medical Association (BMA), and the Association of Directors of Public Health UK (ADPH).


The third banned advert was one that took a more serious tone. The spot for a Vape Nation product called KiK e-cigs depicted a group of vapers discussing the product. One man explicitly stated, "I used to smoke normal cigarettes, but after I quit, I tried these. I actually prefer them."


The timing implied by his statement is crucial here. He says that he tried e-cigs after quitting smokes, not while he was a smoker. This makes him not a current smoker but an ex-smoker. The seven complaints received about this ad argued that it might encourage not only ex-smokers, but non-smokers as well, to take up vaping. The company insisted that the pitch was aimed at neither but at current smokers.


The implication is of course that e-cigs can help you quit, which everybody knows is true, but which no one is allowed to say. This does put advertisers in a bit of a bind. It is illegal to advertise a product for its primary selling point.


This issue will no doubt continue to provide further entertainment for those who enjoy watching the convoluted permutations of an advertising industry with its hands tied. A bit of the equivalent of watching a 3-legged race or blind man's bluff.