Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 29 June 2023
Law stated as at: 7 August 2023
CAP has issued an enforcement notice for vaping companies to immediately stop advertising vaping products on social media platforms. According to CAP, certain advertisers are promoting, or encouraging others to promote, their vaping products on a social media platform using paid partnerships or disclosure as an ad.
CAP states this in breach of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code)’s rule 22.12. This rule prohibits marketing communications of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and their components, which are not licensed as medicines, on online media or other forms of electronic media. Vaping products may be advertised in certain cases, including factual claims on the advertiser’s own website and media targeted exclusively at the trade, but any such advertising must still be responsible. Social media accounts are said not to be included in this exemption.
CAP highlights the requirement for advertising to be responsible, in particular that vaping products should be targeted at adults only. The concern is that advertising on a social media platform used by a younger audience may target or encourage under 18s to use vaping products. The ASA’s chief executive has spoken out about the risks of advertising vaping products on social media and states that “one vaping ad on these channels is one too many“. Posts by influencers on social media are considered to be in scope of the enforcement notice and therefore it is not only paid ads that will be caught.
The ASA and CAP are, therefore, actively monitoring influencers and sponsored ads promoting vaping products on social media and are considering the use of AI to aid this enforcement. To ensure these types of ads are removed CAP is also considering liaising with Trading Standards.
Why this matters:
This enforcement notice follows recent rulings from the ASA against influencers seen to be advertising vaping products on their social media accounts. It, therefore, reinforces the ASA and CAP’s stance against the promotion of e-cigarette products such as vapes towards under 18s. Social media platforms should ensure they discourage or prevent advertising of these products on their platforms, whether by companies or third parties, otherwise they may face enforcement action by the CAP and possibly Trading Standards.