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Regulator finds email vape ad in breach of advertising code

June 5, 2024

Photo: iStock

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has on Wednesday ruled that an email advertisement from iVape London Ltd, a vaping retailer, breached the UK’s advertising standards.

The email, dated January 26, 2024, promoted various vaping kits using language deemed promotional rather than factual, which is prohibited under the current regulations for nicotine vapes.

The email in question featured the subject line, “Unwrap Your Savings! Get an exclusive offer on all Vape Kits,” and included text within the email body stating, “Act fast, this special deal is valid for ONLY 24 Hours.” The advertisement showcased images and prices for six vaping kits.

The complainant, who understood that promoting nicotine vapes in electronic media is not permitted, raised concerns that the ad breached the Code of Advertising Practice (CAP).

ASA said iVape did not respond to its inquiries, noting that the lack of response and “apparent disregard for the Code” is a breach of CAP Code rule 1.7, which addresses unreasonable delays in responding to the ASA’s inquiries. The regulator added that it has reminded iVape of their responsibility to provide timely responses to such inquiries.

Upon assessment, the ASA found that the advertisement violated the CAP Code by promoting nicotine-containing e-cigarettes. Under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, advertising of unlicensed nicotine vapes and their components in certain media, including online and electronic communications, is restricted. Promotional claims for such products are prohibited except for factual information on the marketer’s own website and, under specific conditions, in non-paid-for online spaces under the marketer’s control.

The ASA highlighted that the email’s promotional language went beyond permissible factual claims. Additionally, the presence of images showing vape kits alongside packaging with nicotine warnings further supported the conclusion that the products were intended for use with nicotine-containing e-liquids.

In light of these findings, the ASA concluded that the advertisement breached CAP Code rule 22.12, which restricts marketing communications that promote nicotine vapes in electronic media not targeted exclusively to trade.

The ASA has ordered that the advertisement must not appear again in its current form. They also instructed iVape London Ltd to refrain from sending marketing communications promoting nicotine vapes and their components to consumers in their emails, unless the products are licensed as medicines.

Last month, the ASA has ruled against a newspaper advertisement by the Independent British Vape Trade Association, concluding that it had the indirect effect of promoting unlicensed nicotine vapes.