A Victory For Truth and Common Sense Says Advocacy Group And Medical Establishment

The relaxing of advertising restrictions around e-cigarettes here in the UK is great news and could lead to more smokers making the switch to vaping.

Whilst amendments to the existing advertising code don’t tear up the rules they certainly go a long way to untie the shackles vape companies have been under in not being able to say categorically that vaping is safer than smoking.

encourage smokers to vape

However advertising of e-cigarettes and vape products are still banned on pretty much all forms of mainstream media:

Nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are legally banned from advertising in a range of media, including magazines, TV, and radio. The changes made to the Codes do not undo or otherwise affect the application of these media bans.

Sorry vape models – no prime time telly for you yet 😉

However and this is where things get a little shall we say weird – advertising is allowed in the mainstream for vape devices/products that do NOT or cannot contain nicotine…as the rules state I doubt there’s any of those out there..?

Only a non-nicotine containing product / brand which does not indirectly promote a nicotine-containing product / brand (for example by sharing a brand name) can be advertised and make a health claim. BCAP is not aware of such a product having been marketed in broadcast media but considers that it is possible.

Ummm …I was just covering my bases with that bit – in case any keyboard warriors picked up on it lol. Like BCAP states it is possible a totally tamper proof device in say a sealed pod with no nicotine added may appear on the scene…though doubtful…

New E-Cigarette Advertising Rules Explained

OK as the rules stood companies were not allowed to make any health benefit claims around e-cigarettes and vaping despite Public Health England’s now famous e-cigs are 95% safer than lit tobacco.

However following on from the UK Government’s Science and Technology Committee’s recommendation that strict advertising rules should be lifted – last Friday the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) tweaked the law just enough to allow health claims.

health ads in ecigs

Laying out the reasoning behind the relaxation of the rules ASA says:

  • A majority of respondents supported the proposal, including ASH, Cancer Research, Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians as well as those in the e-cigarette
    industry. The recurring key arguments in support are that:
  • product quality has improved markedly since 2014 and since the implementation of product standards by TRPR;
  • e-cigarettes are a less harmful alternative to smoked tobacco and have a significant role to play in smoking cessation; and;
  • public understanding of the relatively lower risk is limited and appears to be declining, and marketers are currently unable to correct this understanding through their own advertising.

That last point is for me one of the most important.

As I’ve written umpteen times the media with its constant barrage of scary sexed up sensationalist fake news stories around vaping has obviously led to many smokers believing e-cigarettes are as bad or in some cases even worse than lit tobacco.

At least now vape companies can set the record straight.

Relaxation Of E-Cigarette Advertising Rules Welcomed

Here’s the main gist of the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP and BCAP) amendment:

Following consultation, CAP and BCAP are amending rules in each of their Codes to remove the absolute prohibitions on claims being made about health in lawful advertisements for electronic cigarettes. Since this prohibition came into force in 2014, the evidence for the relative safety of e-cigarettes has improved, alongside a regulatory regime to set product standards.

In light of these sector-wide changes, CAP and BCAP consider that an absolute prohibition on health claims in lawful ads for e-cigarettes can no longer be justified.

Marketers will still need to hold evidence for any claims in their ads, and the requirement to carry MHRA authorisation for medicinal claims is unchanged.

It’s a huge step forward for sure however vape companies cannot make any medicinal claims:

Marketers will still need to hold evidence for any claims in their ads, and the requirement to carry MHRA authorisation for medicinal claims is unchanged.

The news has been welcomed by the New Nicotine Alliance who say this is a victory for truth and common sense.


A spokesman said:

The NNA, naturally, fully welcomes the announcement and we are pleased that common sense has prevailed in this policy area. It has long been frustrating for both consumers and the vaping industry that regulations have prevented the truth being told about the reduced risk products in relation to combustible tobacco.

In the past Public Health England and other health organizations could quote the 95% safer message and therefore make it clear to consumers and smokers that vaping was indeed far safer than smoking – however vape companies were not!

A niggly issue but an important one that has now thankfully been changed.

Objections To The Rule Change

However it wasn’t an easy path to get the all of the new rules passed with more than a few organizations against some of the amendments – these organizations were particularly concerned at:

This could open to door for tobacco firms or groups of firms to promote e-cigarettes generally for health reasons.

We do not think this is at all desirable or in the public interest, and we believe that the removal of these restrictions should be limited to public health campaigns undertaken by public health stakeholders who have no direct commercial interest in the e-cigarette category and not those who are acting on behalf of or funded by commercially interested parties.

You can read the full list of objections in the responses document at point 3 under the title: Do you agree with CAP’s proposal to add qualifying text to the introductory text of the e-cigarette section of its Code as set out above? If not please explain why.

However as the NNA says:

The consultation responses showed that there were a few health groups opposed to allowing health claims in advertising, but their reasoning was not only weak, but tended to lend weight to the proposal.

For example, many prefixed their objections with “The evidence so far shows e-cigarettes are far safer than smoking and can help smokers to stop. However …” or “Current evidence suggests e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes but …” – but what are these statements if not health claims?

A situation whereby public health organisations can make these claims but those marketing the products are not was clearly absurd, especially since even the most virulent detractors of e-cigarettes cannot challenge the fact that vaping is far safer than smoking.

Those in agreement of the relaxed advertising rules included Boots the Chemist – the UKVIA – Public Health England – The Royal College of Physicians and obviously the NNA.


Of the 8 points in favour this one stands out and chimes perfectly with the NNA’s stance:

It would be incongruous if government, state agencies, charities and other not-for-profit groups could not undertake public health campaigns in support of e-cigarettes. Indeed, as both the UK Government has endorsed the use of e-cigarettes as part of their tobacco control strategy, and recently NHS Scotland has stated its support of e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking there is a need for these organisations to share these views widely among adult consumers.

Further Reading On New Advertising Rules

The new rules are now in place – to be reviewed in 12 months time – and whilst the ridiculous nicotine warning labels on packaging will remain let’s hope this is indeed the first step to getting rid of them!

You can read the full list of amendments HERE and full list of responses for and against HERE.

You can read the full reaction from the New Nicotine Alliance HERE.

I have simpler vape tastes these days - I never leave home without a Caliburn G, a Vaporesso Luxe 40 or Innokin EQ FLTR and a CBD vape pen or bottle of CBD drops in my rucksack...or indeed an Aspire Nautilus Prime X in my pocket... At home I'll be using various mods topped with the GeekVape Zeus X RTA or the Signature Mods Mono SQ topped with the Augvape BTFC RDA... I'm a former journalist and now a writer and sometimes author... I'm ex Army - adore dogs and never happier than hiking over the hills or with a good book on a beach.


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