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New rules for adverts on Vapes

Britain's Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP), and its broadcasting affiliate, BCAP, have come forward with a new set of rules for the advertising of electronic cigarettes. The restrictions seem moderate and fair, as indicated by positive responses by officials of the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association (ECITA).

The changes that are getting the most attention involve television adverts. They will be allowed after November 10, 2014, as long as they observe significant protections, particularly for youth. There has not been a blanket ban on television advertising, but several key adverts have been individually banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after viewers complained.

Beginning in less than a month, television advertising will be permitted as long as it carefully avoids targeting underage viewers. "People shown using e-cigarettes or playing a significant role must neither be, nor seem to be, under 25. People under 25 may be shown in an incidental role but must be obviously not using e-cigarettes," says rule 10 of the new rules.

Furthermore, "No medium should be used to advertise e-cigarettes if more than 25% of its audience is under 18 years of age." It is further stipulated that adverts for e-cigs must not be such as to encourage non-smokers to take up vaping. It should be clearly indicated that the product is aimed at current nicotine users. That said, the advertising must not suggest that the product has medicinal character, or will aid in smoking cessation, unless a pharmaceutical authorization has been specifically granted by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency). This provision will be adhered to with a big "wink" since of course everybody knows that vaping DOES help you quit smoking. Mustn't say so, though.

Says CAP Director Shahriar Coupal: “We’ve moved quickly to put in place appropriate and clear regulation around e-cigarette advertising. While the debate about e-cigarettes continues our commitment is to make sure they are advertised in a responsible way and that children are protected.”

Industry representatives seem satisfied that the rules are fair and well-considered. Tom Pruen of ECITA allowed in a personal tweet that he is "very pleased". They allow "sensible & factual advertising of these products, distinct from tobacco,” his tweet continued.

Of course the new regulations will have a provisional, temporary, provenance, pending decisions about how the MHRA will implement the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), passed earlier this year by the European Union Parliament, and tentatively scheduled for implementation in 2016. Further uncertainty results from the fact that the TPD is currently subject to a legal challenge by vaping products firm Totally Wicked. The challenge has passed the first hurdle in the EU legal process, and is not expected to be adjudicated until 2015.

Under the TPD, electronic cigarettes are to be classified as "tobacco related products" while the MHRA calls them "consumer goods subject to various quality controls" unless a medicinal designation has been requested, an granted on the basis of adequate justification.