When: 9 October 2014
Law as stated at: 6 November 2014
On 10th of November 2014, new advertising rules from the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) on the promotion of e-cigarettes came into force.
Before then e-cigarettes had fallen under the old CAP tobacco advertising rules. This has led to some confusion in the regulatory approach to the device, for example: e-cigarettes were not banned from TV advertising but the device itself was not permitted to appear on a television screen. E-cigarettes are also subject to general rules covering misleading claims, harm, offence and social responsibility.
The new CAP rules clarify the position by providing product-specific rules for advertising of e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes may now appear on screen but:
- the adverts must not be designed to appeal to people under 18 and must not link the use of e-cigarettes with youth culture;
- the persons shown in the adverts must not be, or seem to be, under the age of 25;
- the adverts must not encourage non-smokers or non-nicotine users to use e-cigarettes;
- the adverts must make clear that an e-cigarette is not a tobacco product;
- adverts will be subject to scheduling restrictions which will reduce the chance of them being seen or heard by children; and
- unless manufacturers obtain authorisation from the relevant authorities, adverts for e-cigarettes cannot suggest health benefits or convey that they are ‘safer or healthier’ than tobacco.
Why this matters:
The new rules are helpful in that they specifically address the advertising of e-cigarettes, but they should not necessarily be seen as opening up a whole new avenue of advertising. In particular, the focus of CAP appears to be on ensuring that non-smokers and young people are not encouraged by advertising to start using e-cigarettes.
The differences between the CAP rules and the EU Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU), which came into force in May 2014, also need to be kept in mind. The EU Directive contains stricter provisions aimed at curbing the appeal to young people and includes new restrictions on labelling and cross-border advertising of e-cigarettes. The Directive is gradually being rolled out with most of its provisions due to apply by 2016.
The CAP rules are scheduled to be revisited in 12 months. As this is likely to be an evolving area, tobacco manufacturers and advertisers will need to keep an eye on future developments and rulings.