E-cigarettes can appear in TV adverts, watchdog rules

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An e-cigaretteImage source, PA
Image caption,
Most e-cigarettes emit a vapour and some glow at the end to simulate smoking

Electronic cigarettes can be shown in UK TV adverts from 10 November, the Committee of Advertising Practice says.

Ruling for the first time specifically on e-cigarettes, the CAP said adverts must not target under-18s or non-smokers, and must not show tobacco "in a positive light".

While the advertising of e-cigarettes on TV is currently allowed, the device itself must not appear on screen.

The committee said the new rules would be reviewed after a year.

Advertising of tobacco products is banned in the UK, except in the trade press.

A CAP spokesman said e-cigarettes were previously "caught" by these rules - written before e-cigarettes existed - because they were held and used like cigarettes.

This meant advertising was allowed, but e-cigarettes could not be shown on screen.

Range of views

The rules state that adverts must not:

  • be "likely to appeal particularly to people under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture"
  • encourage non-smokers to use e-cigarettes
  • claim e-cigarettes are "safer" or "healthier" than smoking tobacco
  • make any health claims without approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

The CAP said a consultation before the new rules were created took into account a range of views about e-cigarettes and their "potential to re-normalise smoking, as well as the case being made for their public health benefits".

1. On some e-cigarettes, inhalation activates the battery-powered atomiser. Other types are manually switched on.

2. A heating coil inside the atomiser heats liquid nicotine contained in a cartridge.

3. Liquid nicotine becomes vapour and is inhaled. The "smoke" produced is largely water vapour. Many e-cigarettes have an LED light as a cosmetic feature to simulate traditional cigarette glow.

CAP director Shahriar Coupal said: "We've moved quickly to put in place appropriate and clear regulation around e-cigarette advertising.

"While the debate about e-cigarettes continues our commitment is to make sure they are advertised in a responsible way and that children are protected".

E-cigarettes can already be shown in non-TV advertising, and this will continue when the new rules come into force next month.

The CAP writes and maintains UK advertising rules, which are enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority.