Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.

On 14 February 2003, The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 came into effect for most tobacco advertising and promotion. Although marketing communications for rolling papers and filters and some point-of-sale advertisements are not covered by the ban, the Act prohibits press, poster and most advertising on the Internet for tobacco products (see ‘Tobacco Marketing, General’). As with the previous rules that applied to cigarettes, the rules that now govern the marketing of rolling papers and filters were drawn up in consultation with the Government, the tobacco industry and CAP. The rules cover marketing communications and, unusually, point-of-sale material for rolling papers and filters. They also cover marketing communications that feature recognisable UK brands of rolling papers, filters or pack designs or similarly branded products in a way that promotes smoking more than the goods shown.

Marketing communications for rolling papers and filters should not encourage people to start smoking or increase their consumption, but a simple brand-switching message might be acceptable. They should not show anyone smoking or imply that smoking is any way glamorous or aspirational or is going to enhance smokers sexually, socially or physically.

Marketing communications should be socially responsible: they should not target or particularly appeal to those under 18, should not exploit vulnerable consumers and should not encourage or condone illegal drugs. The ASA has taken a hard line in relation to illegal drugs (see ‘Drugs’). In 2003, the ASA received complaints about several ads for rolling papers, all of which were accused of alluding to the product’s use for the consumption of illegal drugs. Although it rejected complaints about three of the ads, the ASA upheld a complaint about the use of “twist and burn” in an ad that showed the papers twisted at the end in the same way as a joint might be twisted (Imperial Tobacco, 27 August 2003 and 19 November 2003).

Marketers should avoid implying that smoking is healthy or safe and should neither associate their product with a healthy lifestyle or activities nor suggest that smoking promotes relaxation or concentration.

A poster that showed an old lady with a packet of rolling papers over her mouth was complained about in Spring 2004. The complainant believed the ad was offensive and could encourage anti-social behaviour towards the elderly. Although the ASA did not agree with the complainant, marketers of rolling papers, filters and tobacco-branded products should ensure they comply with the other, more general CAP Code rules as well as the specific rules for tobacco, filters and rolling papers.

More on