On Friday, the NNA submitted its response to the CAP consultation on ecig advertising. We support the proposed rules, in principle, but there are several potential issues arising from the use of vague, ambiguous terminology.
The CAP consultation on ecigarette advertising is a key step in developing new rules for advertising ecigs. The proposed rules it contains are intended to give clear guidance to ecigarette manufacturers and vendors regarding what they can and can't say when advertising their products. This is long overdue, as several advertisements have been banned during the last 12 months, for a variety of reasons, and businesses have been left baffled by some of the decisions.
In principle, the core aim of the proposed rules is not unreasonable. The code aims to ensure that ecigarettes can be advertised to smokers but should not be marketed to non-smokers, and specifically not to under 18's. We support the intent wholeheartedly. Appropriate advertising is of critical importance when it comes to maximising the potential public health benefits of “harm-reduced” nicotine products.
However, the proposed rules also rely heavily on rather vague terminology that exposes advertisers to potential challenge from those who object to ecigs on ideological grounds. For example, one rule states can advertisers must not promote “tobacco products”. Presumably, this means they must not promote smoking (of combustible tobacco), but the term used falls foul of the EU view (and probably soon to be the view of the WHO) that ecigs ARE tobacco products. Such ambiguities need to clarified.
Overall, there's not too much wrong with the proposal, but it would be prudent to consider tightening up the language, to minimise the risk of issues arising around interpretation.
Our full response is available here. NNA Response to CAP Consultation