A public consultation on plans for new rules governing the advertising of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) has been launched.

The consultation seeks to “address public concern and uncertainty amongst advertisers” about how e-cigs should be marketed.

While e-cigs are currently subject to the general rules in the Advertising Codes requiring that adverts are not misleading, harmful or offensive, currently there are no product specific rules in place. 

The main proposals being consulted on include:

  • Prohibiting e-cig adverts from appealing to under 18s or showing anyone under the age of 25 using an e-cig.
  • New rules to address concerns about the indirect promotion of tobacco products via e-cig advertising.
  • Proposals to prohibit health or medicinal claims for e-cigs unless the product is licensed for those purposes.
  • A requirement for advertisers to make clear that the product being advertised is an e-cig and whether or not it contains nicotine.

The consultation is being spearheaded by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP).

CAP secretary Shahriar Coupal said: “The market for e-cigs is fast-growing and the existing rules haven’t been able to give advertisers the clarity they need.

“Given the potential association with tobacco products and the fact that many e-cigs contain nicotine, it’s important we put in place strong responsibility rules to make sure that the public and particularly children are protected.”

The consultation will close on 28 April. CAP and BCAP will seek to implement rules as soon as possible.

Two TV adverts for VIP Electronic Cigarettes, which also appeared on YouTube recently provoked 1,156 viewer complaints. Seven issues were investigated, two of which were upheld. The TV adverts must not be broadcast again before 23:00.