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.”
Ten of the most controversial adverts of all time
Ten of the most controversial adverts of all time
1/10 Agent Provocateur
Lingerie company Agent Provocateur is famed for its raunchy adverts, but this 2001 offering - voted best cinema ad of all time - gained particular notoriety due to its star - Kylie Minogue...Sexually gyrating on a mechanical bull in her lacy undies
2/10 Calvin Klein
This sultry Calvin Klein ad featuring Hollywood star Eva Mendes was quickly banned - the main issue being that there's a flash of Ms Mendes' nipple in the clip
This racy Renault advert featuring Dita Von Teese and Thierry Henry was deemed to risqué for UK daytime TV after being first aired on ITV in 2011
An advert for VIP e-cigarette's triggered a number of complaints recently after the innuendo laced advert featured a young women suggestively asserting: 'I want you to get it out... put it in my mouth'
Ikea's Tidy Up campaign, launched first in France in 2001 raised a few questions of taste - not least for a 30 second clip showing a child playing with a vibrator as if it were a toy rocket
Ford's ad for its SportKA made it to British TV in 2003 but was soon banned after numerous complaints from animal rights activists - it shows a pigeon being bashed by the car's bonnet
7/10 Skin Skin
This hilarious Argentinian condom ad shows a young man disguise the fact he has just whipped out a condom when his partner's father walks in by putting it in his mouth and blowing a bubble
8/10 Ann Summers
Ann Summers' online only ad titled 'Flick Your Bean' showed a naked girl crawling along the floor...flicking a bean
Another condom advert, this time from Belgium, has been widely lauded as one of the most controversial of all time - it shows a young boy screaming in a supermarket because he wants some sweets, before bringing up the face of his disappointed father along with the words 'use condoms'
Volkswagen attracted a storm of criticism in 2005 after an apparent ad for its Polo car appeared online. The clip shows a suicide bomber detonating outside a coffee shop, but the car stays in tact. It was soon revealed that the ad in fact had nothing to do with Volkswagen and was instead a spoof made by advertising creatives Lee Ford and Dan Brooks
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."