Section 22 of the CAP Code sets out what is required of electronic cigarette advertising in non-broadcast media and was implemented following extensive public consultation which began in February 2014.

As with the launch of any new rules, it’s crucial that advertisers get up-to-speed and have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t permissible when it comes to advertising e-cigarettes. Moreover, with a lot of political and media scrutiny surrounding the launch of these rules, advertisers in this sector should be under no illusion that the jury is out; people are paying close attention to how these products will be advertised and will be quick to lodge concerns with the ASA if they think the rules are being broken. To help avoid falling foul of the rules, we’ve created dedicated e-cigarette guidance to help the sector get to grip with the new rules that have been introduced to help ensure they’re advertised in a responsible way.

Why have the rules changed?

The popularity of e-cigarettes has increased rapidly over the last year and whilst ads for e-cigarettes have always been regulated under more general Code rules, including misleadingness, harm and offence, product specific rules weren’t in place. Moreover, the wording of the tobacco rules in Section 10 of the BCAP Code (Rules 10.3, 10.4 and 10.5) inadvertently caught e-cigarettes as a “prohibited category”, meaning that they couldn’t be shown in TV ads but they could be depicted in non-broadcast media. The new rules harmonise the position across broadcast and non-broadcast media.

What do they say?

CAP undertook a review of the consultation responses it received and considered the wide range of views that exist about e-cigarettes, including their potential to re-normalise smoking, as well as the case being made for their public health benefits. In summary, the new rules state that ads:

  • must not be likely to appeal to under 18s
  • must not feature people who are or seem to be under 25
  • must not encourage non-smokers or non-nicotine users to use e-cigarettes
  • must make clear that the product is an e-cigarette and not a tobacco product.

Broadcast ads will be subject to strict scheduling restrictions to lessen the chance of e-cigarette ads being seen by children.

All ads assessed under the new rules will be monitored closely and a formal review will be conducted in 12 months.

As always, the CAP Copy Advice team are on hand to provide free advice to agencies, media owners and advertisers on the acceptability of their non-broadcast ads. Simply give the team a call on 020 7492 2100, or submit your copy via our website.

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