The UK’s Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) recently issued an enforcement notice with rules requiring e-cigarette companies to comply with advertising regulations and remove e-cigarette ads that appear on social media.
CAP has noted that some brands are posting content related to e-cigarette products and their components on TikTok and even taking incentives for third parties to post such content, and CAP has warned brands that targeted enforcement action will be taken if the problem persists.
Significant restrictions exist on the advertising of e-cigarettes under the relevant laws and regulations. These restrictions are reflected in the Advertising Code of Conduct. Advertisements for nicotine-containing e-cigarettes that do not have a drug license may not be placed on television, radio, newspapers, magazines and most online media, including social media. Advertising must be responsible, including but not limited to not being targeted to specifically appeal to people under the age of 18.
CAP says it is aware of concerns about the use of e-cigarettes by young people and the ads that appear on social media. Action is therefore being taken to ban ads that violate the rules and ensure they are removed quickly. CAP is working with other regulators and law enforcement agencies to ensure that young people are not exposed to e-cigarette ads that should not appear on TikTok and other social media.
The enforcement notice clearly informs advertisers/brands of existing regulations and requires that if they are using the TikTok platform for e-cigarette advertising, they must stop immediately.
Finally CAP reiterates that its role is to ensure that e-cigarette ads only appear where they can be legally placed (for a legal adult audience) while being responsible. At this stage, these ads sometimes appear on social media and target young people.