An advertisement, viewed as controversial, showing a woman smoking an electronic cigarette is planned to be broadcast on television tonight.
This is the first time a TV ad has been permitted to show an individual using an e-cigarette and it has received criticism that it may encourage children to try these devices.
Cigarette smoking advertisements were banned in Britain during 1965 and during 1991, the ban was extended to include rolling tobacco and cigars.
An amendment to the rules by the Committee of Advertising Practice has allowed the advert to show the device being used. The devices were previously not allowed to be shown in use during advertisements.
The VIP brand commercial will show a woman exhaling vapour from the e-cigarette and will be screened after 9pm, during the first break in the Grantchester detective drama on ITV1.
The co-founder of the brand, Dave Levin, said their devices are aimed at adults, hence all commercials will be shown in suitable programmes after 9pm. He said e-cigarettes have been shown to be a healthier option to tobacco and they are trying to help those who want to smoke to choose a healthier option.
E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, but contain nicotine and one of its marketing trends is that it is a safer alternative for those who are trying to quit.
However, the World Health Organisation has issued warnings that the vapour released by e-cigarettes could have dangers and more research has been called for. The WHO stated that the vapour contains toxins which could increase the risk of disease and death among those who use it and those who are exposed to it. The use of the device has been banned in certain stores, restaurants and hotels.
Supporters have argued that the report from the WHO is misleading as it did not state that the risks of e-cigarettes are outweighed by cigarette smoke, which contains toxins and tar.
Almost 2.5 million smokers use e-cigarettes in the UK and warnings have been issued that its popularity could ‘re-normalise’ smoking. There have been concerns that the devices may become appealing to non-smokers and children. Figures indicate that around 10% of those aged between 11 and 18 have tried the devices, an increase of 7% from last year. Less than 2% stated that they were regular users and 90% of the ones who were occasional or regular users were already smokers or ex-smokers.
The new rules related to e-cigarette advertising stipulate that it should not encourage non-smokers to use it, or show it being used by those under the age of 25. It is imperative that it does not appeal to children or appear during programmes which are popular with teenagers or children. The rules also stipulate that manufacturers are not allowed to claim that the devices are healthier or safer than smoking tobacco, unless they have been licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
These rules are due to be reviewed after one year.
Image Credit: Jonny Williams