Today we're launching a public consultation on proposals to introduce new rules for the advertising of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).

The proposals seek to address public concern and uncertainty amongst advertisers about the advertising of e-cigarettes. While e-cigarettes are subject to the general rules in the Advertising Codes requiring that ads are not misleading, harmful or offensive, currently there are no product specific rules in place. Furthermore, an anomaly in the TV rules means e-cigarette ads are caught by tobacco prohibitions which are intended to prevent the indirect promotion of tobacco products.

The main proposals that will be consulted on include:

• specific rules designed to offer particular protection to the young, the vulnerable and to non- and former-users of nicotine. This includes rules prohibiting e-cigarette ads from appealing to under 18s or showing anyone under 25 using an e-cigarette

• rules that specifically address concerns about the indirect promotion of tobacco products via advertising of e-cigarettes

• proposals to prohibit health or medicinal claims for e-cigarettes unless the product is licensed for those purposes

• a requirement for advertisers to make clear that the product being advertised is an e-cigarette and whether or not it contains nicotine

The proposals take into account the product’s potential for harm, addiction and association with tobacco, but they do not seek to answer the question of their proper use i.e. whether they should be used recreationally; as a smoking cessation device or at all. There have been high level discussions in the EU to address uncertainty about their proper use; the outcome of which will affect how these products are legally regulated and advertised in the future. It’s important, however, that advertisers and consumers are provided clarity and protection about the advertising of e-cigarettes in the interim period.

CAP Secretary, Shahriar Coupal said: “The market for e-cigarettes is fast-growing and the existing rules haven’t been able to give advertisers the clarity they need. By proposing new specific rules, we’re providing a clear framework for responsible advertising.

Given the potential association with tobacco products and the fact that many e-cigarettes contain nicotine, it’s important we put in place strong responsibility rules to make sure that the public and particularly children are protected.”

The consultation opens today, Thursday 27 February, and will close on Monday 28 April 2014. CAP and BCAP will seek to implement rules as soon as possible. Responses have been invited from a cross-section of interested parties including consumer bodies, regulators, government bodies, public health professionals and industry.

Read the consultation here

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