The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP and BCAP), the sister body of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) responsible for writing the UK advertising code, is getting ready to come down on the e-cigarette industry by developing a new “clear” set of advertising rules for the sector.
CAP admits that current advertising rules were not intended nor designed to regulate the reasonably new product, subjecting some e-cigarette ads to be “caught” by codes of conduct intended towards tobacco advertisement.
In the past few months there has been a ribbon of advertising from e-cig companies – some which have fallen foul of advertising code and subsequently banned by the ASA.
The below ad by E-Lites was banned by the ASA after receiving 65 complaints targeted not only at the TV advert, but other adverts that accompanied the campaign including radio adverts and posters on buses. A majority of complaints referenced the notion that the advert could amuse children and breached rules which restrict adverts that might interest children from referring to smoking. Subsequently the ASA banned the adverts as they believed it was not made clear the products contained nicotine.
In short, CAP is looking at potential options with a view to launch a full public consultation on the advertising of e-cigs “as early as possible” in 2014.
On their website, Cap says there has been “uncertainty” amongst the industry as to what e-cigarette companies can and cannot promote in their ads, which is why it is taking “swift action” to develop new advertising rules as it is important to have a “clear and responsible” framework in place.
We’ve slightly delved on this topic, but we thought we’d go for another dive to see what else e-cig companies are copying from the Big Tobacco playbook.
1. Celebrities used to endorse the product
E-Blu: Stephen Dorff and Jenny McCarthy
Camels: John Wayne
Lucky Strike: Frank Gifford
2. Sports sponsorship Advertisement
3. Ads featuring glamorous women and rugged men
4. Sex sells
5. Music Festivals
6. Cartoon Adverts
It seems creative smokers have thought of a means to smoke marijuana without detection – and that is through the use of e-cigs. Because cannabis in liquid or wax form does not emit the strong odor that marijuana smoked in plant-form does, e-cigarette gadgets have been found as the latest tool to do so.
Vaporisers have been used by cannabis users for a good while now, but now people are also using e-cigs for the same purpose. With vaporisers and e-cigs it becomes impossible to know exactly what someone in public is inhaling.
This new method of smoking marijuana has authorities worried by the prospect of minors catching on to the trend and moving from nicotine to marijuana.
As made evident by the many YouTube videos teaching smokers how to use an e-cig for marijuana use, it seems people are finding ways to use legal products like e-cigs for illegal practices.
E-cigs used to smoke marijuana
Tobacco advertisement is one of the most highly regulated forms of marketing, for years we haven’t seen Marlboro stamped across a Formula One car or magazine pages filled with glamour’s women smoking – Why?
Cigarettes (tobacco) and cigars were glorified as glamorous, prestigious almost – just think back to a black and white film, am I right in saying smoking was regularly depicted? It was the trend, an image thing – but that image soon turned into an addiction. And so, what was once hyped up to be cool left many with a dependency on cigarettes – fashion soon turned into a life threatening, harmful addiction. E-cigarettes will follow suit. Let’s not repeat history.
Cigarette commercials haven’t been seen on TV for fourty years; being banned in 1970. New regulations and legal settlements would soon see advertisements stripped from event sponsorships and off billboards, and the law imposed that no celebrities or cartoons could promote the product. And so, the promotion of tobacco cigarettes through time has been phased out by government regulations – but with e-cigarettes, a new type of cigarette, but still very much a smoking, I mean vaping device we are slowly seeing cigarette ads creep back onto TV, into sponsorship and into the lime light.
And what e-cig companies are doing is they’re pushing the same themes as old cigarette ads: “sophistication, freedom, equality and individualism,” (News.com.au, 2013) – just check the latest TV ad by Blu Ecigs staring celebrity Jenny McCarthy below:
This type of advertiesment and marketing is what many tobacco opponents say is the problem:
“The ads, themes and messages are precisely the same (as those) used by the tobacco industry for decades that made those products so appealing to young people,” said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “For an industry that wants to project itself as helping to solve the tobacco problem, they’re behaving just like the tobacco industry in its worst days,” News.com.au, 2013.
Yesterday the European Parliament established a minimum purchase age of 18 on e-cigarettes, along with “tight restrictions on advertising and sponsorship” (which we will address in our next blog) similar to those for conventional cigarettes (Forbes, 2013). With such limits imposed on advertisement and age restrictions, we will certainly see the dismissal of ads targeted towards the younger demographic – an avenue, and market that we have seen many e-cig companies target in the past months.
The European Parliament, however, rejected proposals that e-cigs be tightly regulated as medical devices, in which they would face the same regulatory standards as medicines. Sparing manufacturers what The New York Times (2013) calls “an onerous and potentially costly certification process.”
The FDA still hasn’t regulated e-cigarettes in the US, and despite administering a self imposed deadline to regulate or impose some kind of law on the devices by the end of October – This may be delayed due to the partial government shutdown in the US, which has left FDA offices emptied (The New York Times, 2013).
Analyst Bonnie Herzog of Wells Fargo Securities estimates that the total sale of e-cigarettes, inclusive of sales in traditional convenience stores and online “will be $1.7 billion by the end of the year,” (CNBC, 2013). More than double the profit made last year.
This is still dwarf compared to the sales of traditional tobacco cigarettes whose sales, according to CNBC, are still about $80 billion annually.
In saying that, Herzog, wrote in a recent report: “We have increased conviction that consumption of e-cigs could surpass consumption of conventional cigs within the next decade.” Bloomberg Industries predict e-cigarettes will pass traditional cigarette sales by 2047 (Forbes, 2013).