ASA slaps down three e-cig ads as rules change to enable brands to advertise

E-cigs: the ASA upheld complaints against two brands after more than 200 complaints
E-cigs: the ASA upheld complaints against two brands after more than 200 complaints

The ASA has slammed three ads by e-cigarette brands this week for failing to comply with ASA rules around marketing the products, just one month after a ban on advertising the products on TV lifted.

The ad body upheld complaints against two TV ads for VIP electronic cigarettes and a TV ad for KiK electronic cigarettes after it received a raft of complaints from members of the public and health groups over the content of the ads. 

The move comes after a controversial moves to allow e-cig brands to advertise on TV.

The ASA received complaints from ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), the Association of Directors of Public Health UK (ADPH), the British Medical Association (BMA), North Lincolnshire Smokefree Alliance, the Vale of York Clinical Commission Group, the Director of Public Health, Sheffield City Council (DPH Sheffield), North East Lincolnshire Health and Wellbeing Board, UK Health Forum and 187 viewers against VIP electronic cigarettes.

Glamorised tobacco products

Concerns were raised on the grounds that the ad depicted an "overtly sexual" woman promoting the product, who was glamorised and promoted smoking tobacco products.

Other complaints said the ads were irresponsible and appealed to people under 18 years of age and that the ads encouraged non smokers to use e-cigarettes.

The ASA ruled that because the ads created a "strong association with traditional tobacco smoking" and presented it in a "sultry and glamorous way," the ads promoted the use of tobacco products. However, the body found that the ads did not appeal to "youth culture" and did not breach the code for portraying the woman as "overtly sexual". The ASA ruled the ads must not appear again in their current form and that VIP Electronic Cigarettes must ensure future ads do not promote tobacco products.

The authority also upheld complaints against e-cig brand KiK that it encouraged non smokers to start smoking e-cigs. The ad showed a group of people smoking in an outdoor restaurant with one man saying "I used to smoke normal cigarettes, but after I quit, I tried these. I actually prefer them."

The ASA found the company in breach of the code and ruled the ad must not appear again in its current form. 

Read next

Oculus Rift in action: what are the marketing opportunities?

Techy Christmas: how brands are innovating for consumer attention

Start Your Free 30-Day Free Trial

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free