The ASA argued that the ads glamourised the use of tobacco, breaking one of the guidelines required for the ads to be shown on TV.
Before the original vaping commercial was shown on ITV, The Committee of Advertising Practice outlined four requirements for it and its equivalents would need to meet:
- would not be "likely to appeal particularly to people under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture"
- encourage non-smokers to use ecigarettes
- claim ecigarettes are "safer" or "healthier" than smoking tobacco
- make any health claims without approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
Over 200 complaints were lodged against the adverts, two of which were made by VIP Electronic Cigarettes. None of the adverts showed people smoking regular cigarettes.
The advertising watchdog said:
We considered that the manner in which the vapour was exhaled and the heightened focus on this action created a strong association with traditional tobacco smoking.
Because the ads presented it, as the central focus of the ads, in a sultry and glamorous way, we considered that they indirectly promoted the use of tobacco products.
The third advert made by Vape Nation was banned after receiving seven complaints. The KiK ecigarettes were marketed to former smokers.
"We considered that the man's statement could encourage non-smokers to take up using e-cigarettes and we therefore concluded the ad was irresponsible", ASA said. Not everyone was on board with the ASA's decision.
Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said:
To encourage smokers to switch advertisers must be allowed to show people exhaling vapour. Failure to do so will greatly reduce their effectiveness.
Without evidence to support its case, the ASA has no right to ban an advertisement on the spurious grounds that, indirectly, this may encourage people to smoke tobacco.
Below is the first ecigarette ad showing vaping that was aired in the UK.