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Ad watchdog upholds Imperial Tobacco complaint against Elfbar

November 29, 2023

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has on Wednesday upheld a complaint against Elfbar, which became the eighth vape brand to receive the rap from the advertising regulator in November.

Complaints against Elfbar involved a poster and digital billboard ad, seen in London in late July and early August, promoting the disposable vape brand’s GreenAwareness recycling campaign.

Complainants, including Imperial Tobacco, which owns the rival brand blu bar, accused that the ads were misleading as they did not make clear there were only limited recycling options for the products. Besides, they also said the ads misled about environmental benefit of the products and misleadingly highlighted an environmental benefit that resulted from a legal obligation to which competing products were also subject.

Responding to the ASA on behalf of Imiracle (HK) Ltd, the global owner of the Elfbar brand, Green Fun Alliance Ltd, the importer and one of the distributors of Elfbar products in the UK, said general intention of the ads was to raise awareness that their vapes could be recycled and to encourage consumers to engage with recycling.

Elfbar said single-use vapes could be recycled through many outlets, including but not limited to supermarkets, selected vape stores, and at locally-authorised recycling sites, adding that those outlets were comprehensive and widely accessible by consumers.

The ASA, in its ruling, acknowledged Elfbar’s intention, but concluded that the ads were misleading as the consumers would understand from the ads that they would be able to recycle Elfbar’s single-use vapes through a wide variety of routes including by easily accessible routes such as home recycling provisions, when that was not the case.

It also upheld two other allegations, noting that the inaccurate impression that the products were fully recyclable combined with the claim ‘for a greener future’ exaggerated the environmental benefit of the products and was therefore likely to mislead consumers.

The regulator ordered that the ads must not appear again in the forms complained of, and asked Elfbar to ensure their future ads made the basis of environmental claims clear, and did not mislead as to the environmental impact or benefit of their products.

This month, the ASA has upheld complaints against TheGreatEvape Ltd, Daniels Vapes, Voopoo International, Vaporesso, Geekvape Electronic Cigarettes (UK) Ltd, Cloud City Vapez UK Ltd and ACME Vape Ltd for promoting unlicensed nicotine-containing vapes on TikTok.