Even as the Advertising Standards Authority is in the process of introducing a new set of rules to monitor and regulate the advertising and marketing of electronic cigarettes, it has banned an advertisement by e-cigarette brand, Ten Motives. The claims made by the ad were disputed stating that these claims could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
According to the regulator, the advertisement was banned for making claims that the company was unable to substantiate. The advertisement had claimed that brand’s electronic cigarette was a healthier alternative to smoking.
Ten Motives’ leaflet for disposable e-cigarettes stated that their product was the healthier substitute for smoking because it avoids the tar and other cancerous toxins that cigarette smoke contains. It also claimed that users could enjoy the product without any worry of its impact on their health.
In its defence, Ten Motives pointed out that electronic cigarettes did not contain any of the 4000 odd harmful chemicals and cancer-causing substances that were generated by tobacco cigarettes.
Ten Motives also drew attention to the fact that the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had concurred with its move allude to e-cigarettes as a healthier substitute.
They also quoted an online article by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a charity dedicated to public health, which claimed that it was the tar in cigarette smoke that was the primary cause of death among smokers.
Ten Motives also referred to various presentations at the November 2013 electronic cigarette summit held at the Royal Society which was attended by well-known people and scientific organisations, to support its claims. This included a presentation entitled “nicotine safety in the context of e-cig use and…”
The ASA, in its decision stated that the ads worded to convey the meaning that the product being marketed by Ten Motives was less harmful than traditional tobacco cigarettes.
The ASA chose to ban the product in spite of acknowledging the quote from ASH as Ten Motives did not provide any other documentation or evidence in support of the effects of e-cigs in general and the specific products offered by Ten Motives. It also did not place much reliance on the presentations at the electronic cigarette summit as these were not based on products from Ten Motives.
In its final verdict the ASA decided that the claims of Ten Motives were misleading and imposed a ban on the ad.