Changes In Vape Ads
Ever since it first started to become popular, vaping has been subject to a lot of advertising restrictions around the world. The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has recently announced changes to vaping advertising restrictions that prevented vape companies from mentioning health claims when marketing their products.
The restrictions on health claims in vape advertising had received a lot of criticism as they failed to reflect the current research into the effects of vaping.
Vaping is a new phenomenon that’s only been around for just over a decade. In the beginning there was very little information on the health effects of vaping and many were concerned that vaping might be just as harmful as smoking. But since then a lot of research has been done. The evidence shows that vaping is significantly safer than smoking and is proven to almost double the chances of smokers quitting for good.
It was only a matter of time before the ASA changed their regulations to reflect the growing evidence supporting vaping. Healthcare organisations like Public Health England and the NHS already support vaping as a way to help quit smoking, so it makes sense to allow accurate health claims in vaping advertising.
Removing Some Restrictions
The Advertising Standards Agency is lifting the restrictions on health claims in vape advertising in response to the growing evidence into the health effects of vaping. The restriction on health claims prevented vaping companies from mentioning any relationship between vaping and health, including that vaping is less harmful than smoking.
But what does this mean for the future of vape adverts? What health claims will be allowed and what restrictions still apply?
When it comes to advertising restrictions, United Kingdom vaping adverts must still comply with the EU Tobacco Products Directive. The TPD regulations mean that nicotine vaping still can’t be advertised on TV, radio, press, paid for ads online or promotional content on an advertiser’s own website or social media. Although these restrictions could change when the United Kingdom is no longer following the TPD.
Evidence is the most important factor when it comes to health claims in vaping advertising. Vape companies will be required to provide evidence that their health claims are accurate and this evidence needs to apply to the specific product being advertised, not to vaping in general.
There is already a lot of evidence about the health effects of vaping, with more research being carried out all the time. But providing specific evidence is one of the biggest hurdles to including health claims in vaping advertising.
This requirement for specific evidence is to ensure that any health benefit being claimed applies to the specific vaping products being advertised. But producing sufficient evidence for every product being advertised will take time and effort as there is a huge variety of vaping products in the United Kingdom.
Quitting smoking and medical claims
Although health claims are now allowed in vaping advertising, there is still a prohibition on medical claims.
This means that vaping products can be advertised as healthier than smoking or that they have proven health risks. But vape adverts can’t claim medical benefits, like treating or preventing disease and this includes mentioning that vaping is proven to help people quit smoking.
No vaping product will be allowed to advertise itself as an aid to quitting smoking unless it has the relevant medicines licence from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, MHRA. Any vaping product will need to go through the time consuming process of becoming a licensed medical product if it wants to mention quitting smoking in its advertising.
These changes to vaping advertising are just the latest in a series of changes that have been going on for years.
Before 2016 there were even heavier restrictions on vape advertising in the United Kingdom, meaning that for years the industry had to grow with very little advertising behind it. Even after the 2016 changes that made advertising vaping products less restrictive, there were still major limitations on how and where vaping could be advertised.
The old restrictions received a lot of criticism, including concerns that the legislation was too unclear and difficult to follow. Some argued that the restrictions also made it harder for smokers to learn the truth about vaping as an aid to quitting cigarettes. So, it’s no wonder that these advertising restrictions have been updated.
When it comes to vaping advertising, the main problem isn’t that restrictions make it difficult for vaping companies to sell their products. Instead the bigger concern is that advertising restrictions make it hard to correct popular misconceptions, making it difficult for smokers who want to quit.
Vaping has been proven to almost double the chances of smokers successfully quitting for good but a shocking number of people still think vaping is just as harmful as smoking and does nothing to help people give up smoking. Making more people aware of the truth about vaping means that more people will turn to vaping to help them quit cigarettes.
The Advertising Standards agency’s decision to end restrictions on health claims in vaping advertising is a great step forward. But the restriction on advertising vaping as an aid to quitting smoking might still be a problem.
The NHS, Public Health England and Department of Health already support the evidence that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking and helps smokers give up. So the ASA is just catching up to the rest of the country when it comes to accepting the current research into vaping.
Hopefully allowing vaping adverts to use health claims will encourage more smokers looking to quit to try vaping, even if mentioning the proven benefit to quitting isn’t allowed. Smoking is regarded as the largest, preventable form of death in the world with around half of smokers dying as a result of smoking related illness. If these new advertising regulations make it easier for smokers to find products proven to help them quit smoking then that’s great news.