Advertising cigarettes on TV has of course been outlawed for a number of years now, however, a new advertising campaign for a brand of electronic cigarettes is set to challenge the rules regarding advertising tobacco with its new TV ad that debuts on January 19.
The advert for E-Lites will feature comedian and Waterloo Road star Mark Benton as a smoker who misses his baby first steps when he goes outside for a cigarette.
Running with the tagline, “What are you missing?” the campaign will air on various channels including ITV, Channel 5 and Sky, and we’ll also see the ad in magazines and online.
Of the ad, the Radio Times states, “The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which investigates complaints about ads, said that its rules on the advertising of tobacco products also extend to other items that imply a reference to smoking or are seen to promote it…”
A spokesperson said, “The primary intent of [our] rules is… to ban advertisements for tobacco products in line with the various pieces of legislation in this area…
“We also have rules restricting products similar to tobacco products, references to smoking or tobacco products and the promotion of smoking in general.
“As it stands, it is our view that the advertising of e-cigarettes on TV is likely to be severely restricted owing to [these rules], so the kinds of claims and images that could be used to promote them is incredibly limited.”
The ASA spokesperson added that the E-Lites ad could prove to be a “landmark case” that could see a change to – or clarification of – regulations.
The ASA representative said, “There are discussions on-going in government about whether e-cigarettes that contain nicotine should be licensed as smoking cessation therapies ie, whether they are medicines.
“We are currently waiting for The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to come to a conclusion…
“If the MHRA decides to go down the licensing route, then existing products will have to apply for a marketing authorisation (similar to any other medicine); products without a license would not be allowed to advertise at all.”
However, E-Lites marketing director Trevor Field defended the product, and the ad, saying that it could help smokers to quit.
He said, “We appreciate that it is better to quit smoking altogether but there are over 10 million smokers in the UK, many of whom are unwilling or unable to quit.
“E-Lites offer a harm reducing alternative and we know that we can give smokers a healthier, cheaper and more socially acceptable option to tobacco cigarettes.
“The TV ad is a great way to communicate that message.”
And Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said that ASH broadly supports the view that electronic cigarettes can help smokers quit.
She said, “In principle, we support smokers switching to smokeless nicotine products because it’s the smoke that kills you, not the nicotine…
“Although nicotine is potentially addictive, it is not toxic or harmful on its own. We do think that these products should be regulated…
“But there are never any circumstances when it’s better to smoke than to use non-tobacco, non-smoke nicotine products.
“The NHRA… is looking at how it can regulate [e-cigarettes] because it felt by forcing these products off the market it might lead smokers into going back to smoking.”
So what do you think? Is it right or wrong to advertise electronic cigarettes?
After all, there are ads for nicotine patches and other nicotine replacements on TV already, but then again, they aren’t particularly ‘sexy’ ads, while this image for E-Lites arguably is…
Let us know what you think but for now, here’s a look at E-Lites featuring on Daybreak…