Smoking is once again being advertised on TV screens across the UK, now that two of the leading electronic cigarettes (e-cig) companies are investing in their first advertising campaigns.

Ads for Skystart, the electronic cigarette manufactured by Skycig hit the air on Monday, and are now being shown on 5 USA for an initial one-month period.

UK commercial director Damien Scott said the clearance of the advert showed how attitudes towards e-cigs were changing, and that the products were being recognised as a healthier alternative to smoking.

E-cig manufacturer E-Lites is also set to launch a national TV advertising campaign this Saturday January 19.

Led by Waterloo Road actor Mark Benton, the campaign features the strapline “You don’t know what you’re missing”. Benton plays the role of a father who misses his baby’s first steps because he had to go outside to smoke a cigarette.

The national campaign will run on ITV, Channel 5 and Sky, as well as in print and online.

Matt Gibbons, who sells electronic cigarettes at his Gluggles store in York, said he had high hopes for the adverts.

“This is great news for the entire electronic cigarette industry, it means that e-cigs have finally gone mainstream. The sales of e-cigs jumped up at the start of the year and have been climbing all month. These TV adverts will boost sales even more and I predict a huge boom in this sector throughout 2013,” he said.

Cigarette advertising was banned on UK TV in 1965 and cinema advertising followed in 1986.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it was waiting for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to decide whether e cigs should be licenced or not. Should it decide in favour of licencing, existing e cig products would have to apply for a marketing authorisation, and products without a license would not be allowed to advertise.