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ASA Finds Against VPZ

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint by ASH Scotland that VPZ made implied medicinal claims for smoking cessation as part of the promotion of its quit clinics

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint by ASH Scotland that VPZ made implied medicinal claims for smoking cessation as part of the promotion of its quit clinics. As part of its coverage on the matter, Channel 4 spoke to a claimed ‘expert’who trotted out a stream of half-truths and lies unchallenged.

The ASA said: “A website for VPZ VapeClinic,, seen on 30 August 2022, featured a headline which stated ‘Make the switch today with the VPZ Vape Clinic’.

“Text underneath that stated ‘Book a FREE 30 minute appointment today. Quit, or your money back. Vape Clinic by VPZ is a dedicated, one-to-one consultation with our e-cigarette specialists. We’ll guide you through various cigarette alternatives to find the perfect fit for your needs so that you can start your journey to becoming smoke free. We’ll continue to offer guidance and help on your cigarette free journey and if after 4 weeks you’re not happy with your cigarette alternative, you’ll get your money back.’

“Alongside that, ‘QUIT SMOKING OR YOUR MONEY BACK’ was stated in large font.”

ASH Scotland believed that the ad “implied medicinal claims for smoking cessation”, and reported it to the ASA to see if they agreed it broke the CAP Code.

CCHG Ltd (trading as VPZ) told the ASA “that their products were not authorised by the MHRA for smoking cessation. They said that the ad described the ‘vape clinic’ service offered by their retail stores. They explained that as part of that service they sold a range of cigarette alternatives, and it was necessary to provide their customers with relevant factual and product-focused information to make an informed purchase. They asserted that the ad provided accurate and factual information about the clinic and that it was necessary to include smoking cessation claims in order to fully inform those who were looking to use vapes as a means of quitting smoking. Because the website provided factual information, they considered that it was not an ad for the purposes of the CAP Code.

“VPZ did not consider that the ad contained any medicinal claims. Regarding the claim ‘make the switch today with the VPZ Vape Clinic’, they said that their intention was to inform adult smokers that vaping was an alternative to smoking tobacco. They supported that claim by referencing a Public Health England 2021 report which stated vapes were the most popular aid to help people quit smoking. They also referenced a government commissioned review which recommended vaping as a method of quitting smoking.

“VPZ said that the advertised money back guarantee reflected their belief in smokers being able to successfully quit smoking tobacco via vaping. They explained that if a consumer had been unable to substitute smoking tobacco with vaping after four weeks, then they would receive a refund on all vaping products purchased with VPZ. They further highlighted that business commitment demonstrated their confidence in vaping as a means of stopping smoking.”

In upholding the complaint, the ASA said: “Claims that e-cigarettes were capable of helping users to quit smoking cigarettes or reduce the amount that they smoked were considered medicinal claims for the purposes of the Code. Whilst the ASA recognised that several public health bodies had made favourable statements about the potential health benefits of e-cigarettes, medicinal claims in marketing communications for e-cigarettes remain prohibited in the absence of a relevant MHRA licence. We understood that the e-cigarettes promoted by VPZ were not authorised by the MHRA for that purpose and therefore smoking cessation claims were prohibited from marketing communications.”

The ASA has instructed VPZ not to use such advertising again.

Channel 4 spoke to Professor Emily Banks about vaping. Professor Banks is one of those who pushed for Australia's failing prescription-only model for vaping – an approach that has seen the smoking cessation rate stagnate, increased teen ecig use, and a black-market boom in illegal, unregulated vape products.

Banks told Channel 4 that she thinks it is good that the ASA his holding companies to account because they should be limited to giving “evidence-based advice”. What Banks failed to mention is that the independent evidence in the UK demonstrates that vaping is the most popular approach to quitting – not cold turkey as she suggested – and that published papers have highlighted how vaping works better than traditional NRT products.

Professor Banks went on to lie that “vaping does carry significant harms”.

The use of e-cigarettes can cause addiction, causes poisoning, trauma and burns, lung injury. We also know that they have a major environmental impact,” she continued.

VPZ told Channel 4 News: “We respect the decision of the ASA and remain focussed on our commitment to helping adult smokers quit.

“Our strategy is about one-to-one consultation, bringing expert knowledge and engaging with smokers to educate them on the benefits of switching to vaping.”


Channel 4 News coverage -

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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