Three ads for SmokePops LDN, a retailer selling ‘smokepops’ (crushable flavoured balls designed to be inserted into the filter part of a cigarette to alter its flavour), seen in January 2022:
a. A paid-for ad on Facebook featured a video demonstration of how to insert the product into the filter of a cigarette.
b. A post on the advertiser’s Facebook page included the claim “safe to use made with lab-tested organic ingredients”.
c. The advertiser’s website, www.smokepops.co.uk, featured the claims “safe to use made with lab-tested organic ingredients”, “smokepops are formulated with organic essential oils, a healthy option that leaves your tastebuds excited and wanting more”, “made with optimum ingredients for optimum health”, and the same video as ad (a).
1. One complainant challenged whether ads (a) and (c) irresponsibly promoted smoking because they featured a cigarette.
2. The ASA challenged whether the claims “safe to use”, “optimum health” and “a healthy option” were misleading and irresponsible because the product was intended to be used while smoking cigarettes.
Response1. & 2. Smokepops LDN said that they did not intend to promote harmful or unhealthy behaviour. They said that the product’s manufacturer held documentation which included safety certification and ingredient quality assurance. They said they had amended their advertising to remove the claims being investigated.
The ASA understood that the product was intended to alter the taste and experience of smoking a cigarette. We considered that showing a cigarette in ads (a) and (c) and including a demonstration of how to insert the product into a cigarette filter had the effect of encouraging smoking.
We therefore concluded that the ads were irresponsible.
On that point, ads (a) and (c) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Social responsibility)
The ASA noted that smoking cigarettes was harmful to health. Because we understood that the product was intended to be used while smoking cigarettes, we considered that the claims “safe to use” in ads (b) and (c), and “optimum health” and “a healthy option” in ad (c) were misleading and irresponsible. We welcomed Smokepops’s assurance that they would remove the claims and considered that products that were used only in conjunction with cigarettes should never be described as safe or healthy. We therefore concluded that the claims were misleading and irresponsible.
On that point, ads (b) and (c) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Social responsibility) and 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising).
The ads should not appear again in the forms complained of. We told Smokepops LDN to ensure that their advertising did not encourage smoking or suggest that the products were safe or healthy.