First e-cigarette 'vaping' advert to be shown on TV criticised for being 'highly sexualised'

Advert will show woman exhaling vapour in ‘highly sexualised’ clip promoting electronic cigarettes

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The first electronic cigarette advertisement showing people ‘vaping’ has been heavily criticised by anti-smoking charities and public health officials ahead of being aired on television this evening.

Although e-cigarettes have been advertised on TV before, this is the first instance that an individual will be shown inhaling the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette.

Professor Martin McKee, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said he is “very concerned”.

He claims the advert, which shows an attractive woman exhaling vapour from an e-cigarette, is “highly sexualised and gives the impression at being aimed at non-smokers.”

“It doesn’t contain any information that smokers would expect,” he said, adding that he was “totally against it.”


Amanda Sandford, a spokesperson for anti-smoking charity ASH, also voiced her organisation’s “concerns” over airing the clip.

She said to The Independent there was “no need” for the advert to be filmed in such a way that failed to make clear it was intended for non-smokers – and ASH believed it could be a violation of the guidelines set down by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP).

Cigarette advertising was banned on British television in 1965, however, as the use of electronic cigarettes has increased new guidelines have been introduced. These state the clips must not encourage non-smokers to use the electronic devices.

The advertisements also should not be “likely to appeal particularly to people under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture", make any health claims without approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, or claim that they are “safer” or “healthier” than inhaling tobacco.

“There is no need for it to be glamorised in such a way,” Ms Sandford claimed and said the advert, which will run after the watershed for five weeks, could “potentially only increase the risk of more people taking up smoking - not reduce it.”

She continued that despite there being limited evidence that ‘vaping’ leads to smoking, “that could change as a result of this advert – which is a real worry to us.”

The British Medical Association said to The Independent that as e-cigarettes became more popular it was vital to ensure that advertising guidelines were consistent across the board to prevent glamorising ‘vaping’ or appealing to non-smokers.

A spokesperson said: “It is incredibly difficult to define what will and won't appeal to young people, and this could glamorise e-cigarettes and make them appealing to young people and non-smokers."

Dave Levin, co-founder of VIP, said: “The advert shows someone vaping, as allowed by new rules from the ASA. It is very clearly targeted at adults and will not be shown before the watershed.”

In remarks made to the BBC, a spokesperson for the brand said: “This advert will mark the first time in almost 50 years that TV audiences see someone exhale what appears to be cigarette smoke on an advert. However, it is actually vapour from an e-cigarette that they will see.

"E-cigarettes have attracted a lot of controversy recently, which has largely been due to concerns over safety, so it will be interesting to see how people respond to our advert's debut."