It will soon become illegal to advertise most e-cigarettes.
The new law is being brought in as part of the EU’s Tobacco Product Directive, which is coming into force on Friday.
According to new laws being brought in to regulate tobacco sales, any promotion, sponsorship or advertising of e-cigarettes or their refill containers will be prohibited.
The ban will apply to most mainstream media platforms – including the internet, television and radio.
For now adverts on outside posters and on the sides of buses are still allowed, as long as the bus isn’t leaving the UK.
And where ads are permitted, they won’t be allowed to make claims about e-cigarettes helping people to give up smoking.
However, there are a couple of exceptions.
Zero nicotine e-cigarettes – for example, 100 per cent herbal vapes – are not covered by the new laws because they’re not tobacco products.
On the other end of the scale, if an e-cig contains more than 20mg/ml of nicotine then, under the TPD, it will need to be medicinally licenced.
Because of this, high-nicotine e-cigs will be regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency instead, and are subject to the same advertising regulations as over-the-counter medicines.
This means e-cigs with higher than 20mg cannot be endorsed by celebrities, given out as free samples, or marketed to children.
Where can’t I advertise e-cigs?
It will be illegal to advertise e-cigarettes…
- On broadcast TV as an advert or sponsorship
- As a product placement on broadcast TV
- On the radio as an advert or sponsorship
- On on-demand TV as an advert, sponsorship or product placement
- In newspapers, magazines and periodicals, except for trade publications and non-EU publications
- With internet display adverts, over email or by text messaging, except for trade and non-EU publications
- As an ad or promotion on a company’s own website or on any other non-paid-for online space under their control – however, strictly factual ‘how to’ videos are permitted
Some in the industry think the new regulation on advertising will be excessively restrictive.
Richard Hyslop, chief executive of the Independent British Vape Trade Association, told: ‘There is never a situation where it is better to smoke than it is to vape.
‘Vaping is now recognised by the UK Government as the most popular form of support to stop smoking.
‘However, with virtually all forms of advertising for vape products being banned how are smokers to be exposed to vaping?
‘This advertising ban can only result in a situation where fewer smokers make the switch the vaping – a significantly less harmful alternative.’
Where can I advertise e-cigs?
It will still be permitted to advertise e-cigarettes…
- On blogs, in tweets, or in other independently compiled, non-paid-for reviews
- In the e-cigarette trade press and in trade-to-trade communications
- At the cinema
- In faxes
- On posters on the sides of buses that are not travelling outside of the UK
- On leaflets
- In direct, hard-copy mail
However, others are welcoming the law change.
Brett Horth, CEO of e-liquid manufacturer Vapour Labs, told: ‘Whilst the TPD regulations may seem strict to some, we feel it is hugely positive for the industry and we encourage its enforcement today.
‘TV, radio and online advertising has been banned, however outdoor advertising – such as on vehicles or billboards – is still allowed, which provides us with an all-new opportunity!’