March 15, 2023
Vaping firm Riot Labs has agreed to remove medicinal claims for smoking cessation for its product from its website following an intervention by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The ad watchdog challenged whether a claim appeared in two web pages on the Riot E-liquid website – Only Smoke If You Need To – as part of its Riot Rehab Bus promotion undermined the message that quitting tobacco was the best option for health.
The full caption read: “Riot. Quit Smoking The R.I.O.T Way. Rip Up The Rule Book! Identify Your Triggers. Only Smoke If You Need To. The Rest Is Easy. For More Information Visit Rioteliquid.Com/4steps.”
Riot Labs said they had deleted the highlighted wording from the first page but not the second page. They explained their method of giving up smoking recognised that for some people it was not right to suddenly quit smoking, adding that there was a lot of evidence to support that approach.
The firm said the claim, ‘Only Smoke If You Need To’, was part of the strategy they advocated which was, ‘Switching the R.I.O.T way’ and even in that section of the website (page two) they made it clear that quitting altogether was the best outcome, by saying, “Without realising, your cigarette intake will be next to nothing, or even better; non-existent.”
However, the ASA noted that the implication of the claim was that there were times you may need cigarettes and that it was acceptable to smoke if it was absolutely necessary.
While the second page did state that the best outcome for a person’s cigarette intake was for it to be “non-existent”, that statement was undermined by the repeated message in the ads that using cigarettes was acceptable when it was really needed, it added.
As this contradicted the message that quitting tobacco completely was the best choice for a person’s health, the ASA ruled that the ads were not compliant with the CAP Code rules on e-cigarettes, which stated e-cigarettes may be presented as an alternative to tobacco but marketers must do nothing to undermine the message that quitting tobacco use was the best option for health.
The ASA ordered that the ad must not appear again in its current form, and the Riot Labs was asked to desist from making any claims that undermined the message that quitting tobacco use is the best option for health.