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Monday, November 24, 2014

Why UK advertising has relaxed e-cigarette regulations

U.K. electronic-cigarette advertising regulation
U.K. e-cigarette advertising is allowed on television with some restrictions

By Kelly Gilmour-Grassam

UK vapers, keep an eye out on the telly, because new restrictions mean that from November e-cigarettes will now be allowed to feature on TV adverts. Although constrained by sensible provisions, the Committee of Advertising Practice has decided to permit advertising for a year to see how the ruling fares. A pivotal decision in the e-cigarette debate, the move came as a sign of a general consensus that these devices are a relatively low risk to society, and one that is greatly outweighed by the solution it provides for smokers.

Evidence in favour of vaping

The past 12 months has been a battlefield of health professionals, tobacco companies, charities and the general public arguing over whether electronic cigarettes are good, bad, or somewhere in between for society. Whilst vaping has only really had a lifespan of a decade, it has had a big impact in that time, with over 2 million vapers in the UK alone. Research has been slow to catch up with this trend, however in recent years thousands of studies have been conducted around the world to assess the risks and benefits of e-cigarettes. And as yet, no firm evidence has been found to support the vehement case of opponents. On the other hand, the huge number of smokers who have given up smoking for this healthier alternative provides a strong case in favour of vaping as a way to quit.

Understanding the regulations

One of the major concerns held by opponents of vaping is the fact that e-cigarettes are much easier for teens to get hold of than cigarettes, raising media hysteria of children and young teenagers vaping. However as studies by Action on Smoking and Health show that ‘electronic cigarette use amongst never smokers remains negligible’, including children, it’s clear that these fears are largely unsupported. Because vapers as a rule tend to be ex-smokers who have made the switch from tobacco, it has been deemed appropriate to allow advertising in order to capture the natural target market – smokers who can truly benefit from e-cig use.

Of course, like any industry, safeguards to ensure that the advertising is tailored only to this audience are necessary. The new regulations by the Committee of Advertising Practice have taken measures to this end, requiring that the adverts must not be made to appeal to those under 18 per BBC News. They also state that the focus should be on how e-cigarettes are a safer and healthier alternative to tobacco, therefore aimed at current smokers rather than non-smokers. Any firm seemed to be breaching these terms would be answerable to the Advertising Standards Authority.

The relaxation of UK advertising regulations on e-cigs will certainly help the vaping community breathe more easily. The move should raise awareness of the benefits that e-cigarettes have for ex-smokers, and further entrench vaping as an acceptable alternative to tobacco for millions of users. As such, it’s no wonder that the move is being applauded by many people throughout the country.

About the author: This article is written by Kelly Gilmour-Grassam, a freelance copywriter from Yorkshire, she enjoys fine food and beautiful surroundings. Follow her on Twitter @KellyGGrassam. This article was written with helpful information from Prestige Vaping.

Image: Kelly Hau, "IMG_1265", CC BY-SA 3.0