GettyImages-1553043642 (1)

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) is cracking down on ads for vapes and e-cigarettes that break the law, following the issuing of an Enforcement Notice to advertisers.

Last year, the CAP issued an Enforcement Notice to e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers requiring them to stop paid promotions on TikTok, and it is now expanding its efforts across other social media platforms.

E-cigarettes are not designed to be used by or legally allowed to be sold to under-18s. They are prohibited by law, and by extension, from being advertised in various media and cannot be targeted at children. Under the law, advertisers cannot directly or indirectly market nicotine-containing e-cigarettes that aren’t licensed as medicines on most social media. This means brands cannot promote them in paid-for posts, or in non-paid for posts on non-private accounts, such as on TikTok, Instagram or Facebook. In the few spaces where ads for vapes are allowed, such as on company websites, they must not be targeted or appeal particularly to under-18s, and can only contain factual claims about products.

This Enforcement Notice is being sent to e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers, and makes clear the rules that are in place and emphasises that “ignorance is not an excuse”.

Following this notice, advertisers have until 28 March to ensure ads are compliant. After that, the CAP will be conducting enhanced monitoring, using its Active Ad Monitoring system to find ads that may break the rules and to take action.

Secretary of CAP Shahriar Coupal said: “The law prohibits e-cigarette ads appearing on most social media accounts, so it’s simply unacceptable for companies to advertise in these spaces. AI-assisted monitoring tells us that these companies are typically small traders promoting e-cigarettes through their social media accounts or incentivizing others to do so, most likely in ignorance of our rules and the law.

“Our Enforcement Notice leaves traders in no doubt about their obligations under both and makes clear that e-cigarette promotions through social media channels need to stop. For those that fail to do so, we and our enforcement partners won’t hesitate to sanction them.”