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    Regulator finds vape trade body’s ad in breach of code

    The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against an advertisement by the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA), published in the East Lothian Courier on October 26, 2023.

    The ad, which featured the headline ‘Let’s clear the smoke of confusion: Vaping saves smokers’ lives’, drew scrutiny for potentially breaching advertising standards by promoting unlicensed, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes in a newspaper.

    The advertisement, which aimed to educate the public on vaping’s benefits and challenge misconceptions, featured claims about the role of vaping in smoking cessation and its contribution to public health goals. However, the ASA found that these claims indirectly promoted unlicensed nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, violating CAP Code rule 22.12, which reflected a legislative ban contained in the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR) on the advertising these products in certain media..

    The IBVTA defended the ad, stating that it provided factual information and did not promote specific brands or products. They argued that the advertisement aimed to address public misunderstanding about vaping’s harms and did not have the indirect effect of promoting unlicensed e-cigarettes.

    Despite consulting with the CAP Copy Advice team prior to publication and providing evidence to substantiate their claims, the IBVTA’s advertisement, published in response to the Scottish government’s proposal to ban the sale of disposable vapes by 2025, was deemed in breach of the advertising code.

    The ASA said the ad did not directly promote unlicensed nicotine-containing e-cigarette, but concluded that it had the indirect effect of promoting these products, as it emphasised vaping’s role in smoking cessation and directed readers to the IBVTA website, which listed retailers and vendors of vaping products.

    As a result of the ruling, the ad must not appear again in its current form. The ASA advised the IBVTA that advertisements promoting nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, which are not licensed as medicines, should not be published in newspapers unless targeted exclusively to the trade.

    IBVTA said they are disappointed with the ruling.

    “A YouGov survey in January of this year found that less than a quarter of British adults surveyed could correctly identify that smoking is far more harmful than vaping,” the trade body said in a statement.

    “The IBVTA is therefore disappointed that adjusting the balance of misinformation in the media is not deemed legal through any paid advertorial means, not least when we sought the CAP Copy Advice Team’s advice to ensure that as always, we were acting with utmost integrity and responsibility.”

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