This Might Help, So Let’s Block It

by Dick Puddlecote

This Might Help, So Let’s Block ItSnowdon reported on Wednesday that e-cig retailer Nicolites have had their TV ad pulled for naïvely claiming them to be 100% safe. It will no doubt be temporary, and they’ll be on your screens once the offending copy is amended.

They’d best get a wiggle on, though, because The Times yesterday revealed that one of their competitors has been given the green light.

E-Lites, which makes e-cigarettes containing nicotine, will launch an advertising campaign on Saturday on ITV, Sky and Channel 5, featuring the BBC’s Waterloo Road actor Mark Benton.

I’ve commented before that e-cigs have gone from cottage industry to big business in a remarkably short space of time, and it’s delicious to see two suppliers fighting to be the first to achieve widespread TV recognition.

Standing in their way, though – apart from the clowns who produced the EU TPD – are archaic rules on advertising which don’t take such ground-breaking products into account, along with the mindless state intransigence which is behind them.

Adrian Everett, the chief executive of the Bromsgrove-based company, said it had taken 14 months to clear the 30-second advert with Clearcast, the body that vets TV advertising before broadcast. E-Lites was forced to drop any footage of the product itself or promote the “intrinsic benefit of switching” from tobacco to ecigarettes.

The Advertising Standards Authority has the power to ban adverts, but believes that the rules are sufficiently tight to “severely restrict” e-cigarette advertising on television.

It begs a simple one word question. Why?

Why, when government is spending £2.7m trying to force smokers to quit, is Clearcast delaying these ads for 14 months? Why, when anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that e-cigs are encouraging smokers to quit in far larger numbers than the ‘mutations’ campaign could ever dream of swaying? Why, when the E-Lites campaign costs the taxpayer nothing?

Why are they not allowed to advertise the incontrovertible fact that e-cigs are infinitely safer than tobacco? Why is footage of the product not allowed when it isn’t tobacco and therefore not covered by the ban on tobacco advertising? Why would the state – which is aggressively determined to stamp out smoking, apparently – be happy that the ASA is acting to “severely restrict” something which has huge potential to do exactly that?


Why is the state making e-cigs jump through such preposterous hoops to help people quit, eh? A cynic might think there was some conspiracy to close the nicotine market to anything but pharmaceutical products.

It’s either that, or politicians – and the creaking bureaucratic institutions their inadequacy creates – are dangerously inept and woefully incapable of embracing common sense.

The one certainty is that, yet again, the very last consideration in any of their minds is health.sPCpoRa0QII

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