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Electronic Cigarettes: Advertising

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 168923, tabled on 15 March 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on reducing levels of smoking of improving public perception of e-cigarettes and vape products, including allowing manufactures, retailers and brands of e-cigarette products to communicate comparative health claims and switching messages that are agreed by the relevant public health bodies to adult smokers.

Answered on

22 March 2021

E-cigarettes in the UK are tightly regulated by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR) and the Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015 (NIP). These regulations aim to reduce the risk of harm to children; to protect against any risk of renormalisation of tobacco use; and to provide assurance on relative safety for users. The regulations include restrictions on mainstream TV and radio advertising; prevent sale to under 18s; and limit both tank sizes and nicotine content.

My department works closely with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) who facilitate the self-regulation of the UK advertising sector through the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code) and The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code). The ASA has a clear framework for advertisers to follow in relation to what is and is not allowed when making health claims about vapes or e-cigarettes.

It would appear that the key consideration for advertisers is whether their marketing communications do anything further than provide basic, factual information about the products. Any content that appears to make the product seem more attractive is likely to be regarded as promotional and therefore likely to be ruled against by the ASA and removed.

More information about the ASA’s approach can be viewed here: https://www.asa.org.uk/asset/97E623E4-3A64-4215-81A5C4BD6D82D1E0.A1727AC1-C340-4B08-9820666C89AE18CB/