Ad Watchdog In Move to Say Vaping IS Healthier than Smoking
There could be a change coming to the way e-cigarettes are advertised here in the UK.
Despite nods and winks suggesting many health professionals believe vaping is ‘far healthier‘ than smoking – under the current advertising guidelines manufacturers – vape shops – websites and even health organizations have been gagged from coming out and saying it.
In other words none of us have been able to make the bold statement “switch to e-cigarettes because they’re healthier for you than smoking” – er for the record that is an example NOT a fact 😉
In the UK the advertising watchdog is the Advertising Standards Authority [ASA] and the rules are written by the Committees of Advertising Practice [CAP] under the British Code of Advertising Practice [BCAP].
OK back in February this year – prior to the arrival of the TPD and here in the UK the TRPR – ASA introduced a new CAP Code prohibiting the “advertising of unlicensed, nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes in some non-broadcast media.”
Despite there being no provision under the TPD for such an action as ASA admits:
There is no basis in UK or European law (including the TPD and TRPR) for prohibiting in advertising substantiated health claims which are not misleading.
As you might expect the law – given it was so new – was/is a minefield of ifs – buts and maybes however it is the guidelines anyone looking to advertise e-cigarettes in the UK has had to adhere to – but this may be changing.
If you’re interested in exactly how the law on the advertising of e-cigarettes stands right now and need some guidance check it out HERE.
New E-Cigarette Advertising Proposals
So what’s the next move?
Due to the growing number of public health professionals and organizations ASA has decided it might be time to allow the advertising of e-cigarettes as a ‘healthier option’ to smoking.
The announcement on the ASA website opens with:
CAP and BCAP are consulting on changes to their Codes to remove the current prohibition on health claims being made for e-cigarettes. This proposal follows the results of a call for evidence last year in which a majority of respondents argued that improvements in products and the positive view taken by many public health stakeholders about e-cigarettes’ relative safety compared with smoked tobacco warranted the removal of the prohibition.
Now this is actually quite groundbreaking to say the least and if following the consultation period this new code of practice is accepted – then many more current smokers will feel more confident in making the switch to vaping and very many more lives will be saved.
I say ‘feel more confident‘ because given e-cigarette manufacturers cannot currently advertise the ‘health benefits‘ of switching to e-cigs smokers considering the switch are pretty much only hearing bad things about vaping via a sneering media.
By being able to promote e-cigs as a healthier option and a harm reduction tool through advertising campaigns then confidence in them will grow – simple!
The ASA announcement of the consultation continues:
If the proposal is eventually approved, advertisers will be able to make claims about the health benefits of e-cigarettes relative to tobacco, for example. However, as the consultation document explains, these claims would be limited to the limited number of media channels where ads for e-cigarettes are lawful and marketers will have hold robust substantiation that any claims made were true for the advertised product.
There’s the rider – there’s always a rider lol:
…marketers will have hold robust substantiation that any claims made were true for the advertised product.
Now exactly who or what body will decide if any advertising claims made are true is anyone’s guess but at least we’re making progress!
Media Hatchet Job on Vaping
Of even more interest and I mentioned it briefly at the start is under the current rules on e-cigarette advertising health organizations here in the UK can’t say e-cigs are healthier in any of the literature or campaigns.
Under the new proposal they may be allowed to:
Also covered in the consultation is a proposal from CAP as to how it intends to regulate ads for public health campaigns which refer to e-cigarettes generally but which do not refer to a particular brand or product.
Again great news for the millions of smokers out there still convinced vaping is as bad as smoking.
I mean let’s face it as I continue to say in article after article the media’s role in vaping has been shockingly one sided with a clear message that vaping is as bad for you as smoking is.
This is proven in the statistics as the CAP consultation paper proves:
There are serious misconceptions among the general public repeatedly identified in evidence about the relative risk of e-cigarettes. Many people wrongly believe that they are as or more,harmful than smoked tobacco and the current prohibition on health claims is preventing this problem being corrected. In 2016 only 15% of adults correctly identified that e-cigarettes are a lot less harmful than smoking,whereas 21% correctly identified they were a lot less harmful than smoking in 2013.
The media hit job has been very very good for Big Tobacco and Big Pharma to say the least with more people believing vaping is as bad as smoking last year [with more evidence to the contrary] than in 2013!
Now can you see why I call them the shamestream media rather than the mainstream media?
Those For and Against the New E-Cig Advertising Rules
If this new code of practice goes through then Quit Smoking clinics and the NHS WILL be able to say that yes vaping is an healthier option to smoking.
And yeah I know it’s pretty obvious that is a fact – but given the current advertising red tape we’re all bound up in the message is simply not getting out.
The proposals are at the public consultation stage and this will close at 5pm on Monday 16 October – so if you have anything to say then please do read the proposal and contact them via the link.
Sadly it doesn’t look like it will be plain sailing either despite the overwhelming evidence in support.
At the time of writing this there’s a number of groups demanding the current code remains unchanged and they are:
- Blackpool Council
- British Medical Association
- Johnson & Johnson Ltd
- Proprietary Association of Great Britain
- Royal College of Radiologists
- The Welsh Government
I have to say I’m surprised the BMA is against the move however I’m not at all surprised Johnson and Johnson Ltd are against the new rules and I’ll tell you why.
You’ve probably all heard of Nicorette and like me you probably tried one of their products on your journey to quitting smoking.
And I’m sure like me whilst they kind of helped in the short term it was only e-cigarettes that got me completely off the fags.
Nicorette is owned by McNeil Consumer Healthcare which and yeah you’ve guessed it is a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson.
Now given we KNOW nicotine patches and gums simply don’t work and we KNOW Big Pharma has known this for decades – is it any wonder a company like this can see their profit margins shrink alarmingly when and if e-cigs advertising is allowed?
If you think Big Pharma is all about making you healthier – think again.
I shall say this to Johnson and Johnson and any other pharmaceutical company with an anti vaping stance – if your product is so effective then why wont you let it stand against e-cigarettes?
Answers in comments please!
As to those organizations in favour of the new look rules?
It’s a much larger list – 27 of the actually including:
- ASH UK
- Cancer Research UK
- Boots UK Ltd
- Freedom to Vape
- Independent British Vape Trade Association
- New Nicotine Alliance
- UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies
And many more.
This Simple Change Could save Millions of Lives
I have to say I’m delighted that ASA and CAP has ‘seen the light’ on e-cigarettes and within the consultation paper they make it very clear they support changing the advertising rules based they say on overwhelming evidence that vaping is healthier.
Having carefully weighed all of these arguments CAP and BCAP’s view is that the evidence no longer supports an outright prohibition on health claims for e-cigarettes.The Committees are therefore proposing to change their rules to remove this prohibition.
Let’s hope this is indeed the case because trust me millions of lives are hanging in the balance.
You can read the full consultation paper and respond below – you have until October 16th to do so: