Are smoking TV adverts back? No. But adverts for e-cigarettes will soon be appearing on UK Television.
It’s been many years since smoking was advertised on television – and rightly so! TV Advertising is a highly influential medium which is why there are exceptionally strict guidelines. For TV and Radio, advertising copy must comply with the BCAP Codes (Committee on Advertising Practise – Broadcast Advertising) on what products and services are marketed and how they are marketed.
Concept TV supports the banning of TV Advertising that contain dangerous or misleading propositions, including tobacco ads.
We strive to be an ethical TV Advertising Agency. It’s important to us that our advertisers have genuine intentions and that they comply with the rules. We work with our clients using our extensive knowledge of the industry and the advertising code to ensure their marketing communications comply and can be substantiated. This is especially the case when considering how vulnerable people respond to advertising.
The ban of smoking ads was clear and comprehensive when it came into force. In the UK, it is against the law to advertise a tobacco product, the act of smoking tobacco or things associated with smoking tobacco products (e.g. brands / logos, rolling tools, papers, ash trays, etc). You can read more about The legislation for tobacco advertising and promotion here.
E-Cigarettes do contain nicotine, but do not contain tobacco and as such are not classed as a tobacco product. This makes e-cigarettes exempt from the anti-smoking rules. Instead of burning tobacco, they emit a nicotine vapour that the “e-smoker” consumes.
In some cases, electronic cigarettes have been prevented as a means to stop smoking – similar to a nicotine patch, but in some other cases they have been presented as an alternative to smoking tobacco products.
How an electronic cigarette works.
In the UK, Television Advertising is regulated by the ASA and must be approved by Clearcast before broadcast.
Unlike other forms of advertising, almost all commercial TV channels in the UK require advertisers to have their ad copy approved by Clearcast. This extra process makes it far less likely that misleading claims or rogue products end up on TV, thereby ensuring the integrity of Television Advertising.
Until recently, TV Advertising that promoted the sale or use of e-cigarettes had not been allowed; but on the 17th January 2013, Clearcast announced to the industry that it had passed a number of e-cigarette TV Adverts for broadcast. Click here to view Clearcast’s statement regarding e-cigarettes TV Advertising.
Is it right or wrong?
There is some disagreement between manufacturers of e-cigarettes and anti-smoking organisations. Further studies into the effects of e-cigarette advertising communications and the products themselves should be published as information becomes available.
From an industry perspective, it is important that manufacturers and advertising agencies act ethically and work together to ensure that when e-cigarettes are advertised, they are presented in a responsible way. Specifically, we would suggest that e-cigarette advertising must not directly or accidentally encourage or glamorise the product to non-smokers or the smoking of tobacco products, especially to younger and vulnerable viewers.