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Vype advert barred

Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority has banned an advertisement for Vype e-cigarettes, on the grounds that it implies the product can help smokers quit, reports The Guardian. This comes on the heels of the initiation of a new advertising campaign for Blu e-cigarettes. Both Vype and Blu are e-cigarettes manufactured and marketed by well-funded tobacco companies, which also make and sell poisonous combustible cigarettes, Vype by British American Tobacco and Blu by North Carolina company Lorillard (which is about to be purchased by another North Carolina tobacco firm, Reynolds American, which is almost half owned by British American).

The banned Vype advert shows a couple, enveloped in a wall of smoke, bursting through onto its other side, accompanied by the phrases “pure satisfaction” and “experience the breakthrough”. ASA officials reported that they received complaints from dissatisfied viewers who considered that the spot makes a claim for the e-cig as a smoking cessation product. The Blu advert, by contrast, simply shows cool young people converting an urban space into a trendy party venue, and does not show them using any smoking or vaping product. The connection to the product simply appears on the screen during the final frames.

Of course everybody, detractors and proponents alike, knows perfectly well that the identity of e-cigarettes is based on the idea that they help smokers quit, most of all the many thousands of “anecdotal” ex-smokers who quit the nasty habit through vaping. The prohitition on saying what everybody knows to be true originated with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), when the US courts ruled in 2010 that they could not block e-cig imports on the basis of unauthorized pharmaceutical character. In Britain, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA, the ‘P’ is for mysterious reasons left out) is poised to treat e-cigarettes as medicinal products, based on the idea that they help smokers quit. But the Advertising Standards Authority still insists that current marketers may not make this claim, since they must first fill out mountains of bureaucratic paperwork before receiving authorization to claim medicinal value, something dealers in poisonous cigarettes (like Lorillard and British American Tobacco) can easily afford to do, but independent e-cig businesses (who sell no poisons) cannot, and may go under as a result. The European Union is in the process of implementing similar requirements for e-cigs containing sufficient concentrations of nicotine to attract heavy smokers, but allowing smaller concentrations to pass as tobacco products, as long as their marketers make no smoking-cessation claims.

Of course vapers now constitute a community, one that considers itself embattled because of all this nonsense, and that community seeks to increase its political clout. That means that vapers are in a position to ignore silly advertising. Vapers know what they know, and that knowledge will continue to be disseminated through channels outside the media. The regulators arrived on the scene too late – the horse is out of the barn, and they look a trifle silly trying to lock the barn door now. It is refreshing to see that it is still possible for a mass movement to arise and grow outside of media control, indeed athwart media control. Or government control. The vaping community may well be a healthy sign that society can confound both the yammering hucksters of the media and the sententious nannies of government.

Vape on!