BMA calls on ASA to ban TV ad featuring woman 'smoking' e-cigarette

VIP ad: its depiction of a woman 'smoking' has led the BMA to call on the ASA to ban the ad
VIP ad: its depiction of a woman 'smoking' has led the BMA to call on the ASA to ban the ad

The British Medical Association has accused the first-ever TV ad featuring someone "smoking" an e-cigarette of breaking advertising rules by appealing to non-smokers and has called on the ASA to ban the spot.

The medical association has written to the ASA about the ad for vaping brand VIP Electronic Cigarettes, which features a woman puffing on an e-cigarette on-screen, inhaling and exhaling "smoke".

UPDATE: The ASA has confirmed to Marketing that it is formally investigating the ad and has received around 150 complaints, although it added that "some of the complaints raised were not brought forward to the investigation". It said that the overall nature of the complaints was that the ad appealed to under-18s and irresponsibly promoted the use of tobacco.

Meanwhile, the BMA argued that the commercial directly contravenes regulations which state that marketing for e-cigarettes must be socially responsible and must not appeal to non-smokers.

The VIP ad went on air on 10 November following changes to the Committee of Advertising Practice's advertising rules.

VIP had already stirred up controversy with a raunchy set of TV ads that the ASA recently ruled must air after 9pm, after receiving more than 1,000 complaints.

The BMA has written to the ASA, saying it was concerned that VIP's latest TV ad made no reference to the fact that the product was intended for use by smokers or "existing nicotine users", and called for a "consistent approach to portraying a negative image of smoking".

Mark Porter, the BMA’s council chair, said: "We have repeatedly highlighted our concerns that the promotion of e-cigarettes may have an adverse impact by re-normalising smoking and indirectly promoting tobacco smoking.

"Therefore, it is deeply concerning that these rules are being completely ignored so soon after coming into force.

"We believe that this advert breaches the new advertising rules by glamourising and sexualising vaping, and appealing to non-smokers."

The ASA said that it would publish its findings "in due course".

Earlier this month, Labour said it would consider banning e-cigarette TV ads outright if the party won the next general election.

Labour backbencher Geraint Davies introduced a private member’s bill that would outlaw all ads for e-cigarettes and prohibit their sale to under 18s.

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