If you are a business owner or entrepreneur who is looking to sell or advertise vaping products, or you are a smoker who is looking to use e-cigarettes as a way of stopping smoking for good, it is worth knowing that international e-cigarette regulation is changing – and impacting the way in which vaping products can be marketed.
Notably, the UK has been the most active in positively promoting e-cigarettes as a reduced harm alternative to cigarettes. Public Health England promotes the fact that vaping is 95% safer than smoking and the UK’s National Health Service promotes e-cigarettes as a way of giving up smoking. Having the backing of the National Health Service offers the UK vaping industry a great advantage.
There is no doubt that care needs to be taken when advertising nicotine products. Advertising must not be designed to appeal to teenagers, especially when they do not even smoke cigarettes and so do not need to use vaping in order to give up.
However, promoting vaping as a way of quitting smoking has become even easier in the UK, as the health benefits and claims are now allowed to be promoted on advertising material.
In the UK, the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP), administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has just lifted a blanket ban on health claims for e-cigarettes removing ‘the absolute prohibitions on claims being made about health in lawful advertisements for electronic cigarettes’.
This change is due to the fact that since the prohibition came into force in 2014 and since then, ‘the evidence for the relative safety of e-cigarettes has improved, alongside a regulatory regime to set product standards. In light of these sector-wide changes, CAP and BCAP consider that an absolute prohibition on health claims in lawful ads for e-cigarettes can no longer be justified’.
There are still restrictions in that vape retailers can make broad claims, but can not tie those claims to any particular product – but it is a big step in the right direction. This means that vaping product companies will most likely have to commission their own studies before advertising the health benefits.
The implications of health claims for marketing vaping products
The number of people quitting smoking in the UK is currently at one of the highest levels to date. However, there are still smokers who are struggling to quit and one reason why smoking rates in the UK (and across the globe) have not fallen even further is due to chronic disinformation surrounding vaping with some thinking it is as bad as smoking. Until now, vaping companies have not been able to legally argue these claims.
The UK government’s blog addresses the many myths, misconceptions and inaccuracies that surround vaping. The UK government busts the myths that e-cigarettes give you ‘popcorn lung’, that e-cigarettes aren’t regulated and that e-cigarettes must be harmful as they contain nicotine. The blog also blasts the misconception that exposure to vaping is harmful for bystanders and that vaping will lead young people to smoke.
In fact, of the 2.9 million adult e-cigarette users in the UK, more than half have quit smoking for good and 770,000 have given up both smoking and vaping.
The UK government says that e-cigarettes could be helping at least 20,000 new quits a year.
Vaping and smoking should not be treated as the same
It is important for governments and advertising bodies across the globe to see that e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes are not the same and therefore should not be treated as such.
The world’s smokers need to have access to the correct information to inform their decisions.