CAP takes action against e-cigarette ads breaking the rules

Feb 29th '24

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) is cracking down on ads for vapes and e-cigarettes that break the rules, issuing an Enforcement Notice to advertisers and launching focused monitoring to find and ban problem ads.


E-cigarettes are not designed to be used by or legally allowed to be sold to under-18s. They are prohibited by law, and by extension CAP rules, from being advertised in various media and cannot be targeted at children. As part of the commitment to protecting young people from potential harms, CAP has been monitoring and tackling problem vaping ads appearing in social media.


Last year, CAP issued an Enforcement Notice to e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers requiring them to stop paid promotions on TikTok. CAP are now expanding efforts across other social media platforms and to their social media accounts.


Ad rules follow the law – advertisers cannot directly or indirectly market nicotine-containing e-cigarettes that aren’t licensed as medicines on most social media. This means you cannot promote them in paid-for posts, or in non-paid for posts on non-private accounts, such as on TikTok, Instagram or Facebook. In the few spaces where ads for vapes are allowed, such as on company websites, they must not be targeted or appeal particularly to under-18s, and can only contain factual claims about products.


This Enforcement Notice is being sent to e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers. It makes clear the rules that are in place and emphasises that ignorance is not an excuse. CAP won’t hesitate to apply sanctions against advertisers who are either unwilling or unable to comply.


Following this notice, advertisers have until 28 March to ensure their ads are compliant. After that, they’ll be conducting enhanced monitoring, using the Active Ad Monitoring system to find ads that may break the rules and to take action where they do. For advertisers who want to learn more about making ads complaint, they can sign up to this webinar Clearing the Air – Vape Ads and the Codes.


Shahriar Coupal, Secretary of CAP, said: “The law prohibits e-cigarette ads appearing on most social media accounts, so it’s simply unacceptable for companies to advertise in these spaces. AI-assisted monitoring tells us that these companies are typically small traders promoting e-cigarettes through their social media accounts or incentivizing others to do so, most likely in ignorance of our rules and the law.


“Our Enforcement Notice leaves traders in no doubt about their obligations under both and makes clear that e-cigarette promotions through social media channels need to stop. For those that fail to do so, we and our enforcement partners won’t hesitate to sanction them.”


Source: CAP


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