The first saw a TikTok post from the account @tdvsbackup on 23 May 2023 promoting an e-cigarette shop.
The ASA says: “It featured a man standing in front of shelves of electronic cigarettes. He said, ‘I just wanted to tell you about these. These are new SKE Amare Crystal. Looking really good. I thought I’d get on and tell you now. They have been on the side for a few hours and some of the flavours are selling out … so I thought I’d let you guys know’.”
The complainant believed the post breached the Code by promoting unlicensed, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and their components on TikTok.
ASA responded: “The Disposable Vape Store said they had seen other vape shops advertising on TikTok and so thought it was acceptable. TikTok had advised them that it was unacceptable and that the post would be removed. They were unaware that it was still appearing and removed it when notified of the complaint. They gave their assurance that they would not advertise e-cigarettes on TikTok in future.
TikTok said the video violated their Community Guidelines, which prohibited the facilitation of trade of tobacco products, including vapes or e-cigarettes, and therefore had been removed from the platform.”
The second ruling occurred following five separate incidents.
The ASA said: “The account @asmxlls seen on 23 May 2023 featured the influencer offering vapes from Vapes Bars as a prize to passers-by who correctly completed truth or dare challenges. Text under the post stated, ‘Would you play this game while on a date’.”
Next, “The account @silvanuslnd seen on 23 May 2023 featured the influencer offering vapes from Vapes Bars as a prize to passers-by who correctly answered general knowledge questions. Text under the post stated, Guess the country!!!’.”
Thirdly, “The account @perkioldn seen on 23 May 2023 featured the influencer offering vapes from Vapes Bars as a prize to passers-by who correctly answered general knowledge questions. Text under the post stated, ‘General knowledge’.”
Then, “The account @angelysiaa seen on 23 May 2023 featured the influencer looking for, finding and smoking her electronic cigarettes. Text stated, ‘comes with loads of different shapes and sizes’, ‘So many different flavours’, ‘so smooth on the throat’ and ‘GO GET ONE NOW’. The soundtrack to the video featured the line ‘… you’re a cigarette, I’m a smoker’. Text under the video stated, ‘introducing @Wehavefoundmary use my discount code: VAPES BARS 4 for 15% off.”
Finally, “The account @nathanbyrnee seen on 1 June 2023 featured Nathan Byrne showing viewer a box of electronic cigarettes, then holding and polishing a single electronic cigarette. Text stated, ‘Diamond, the new way to vape’, ‘The perfectly balanced airflow delivers a smoother and more satisfying throat hit’, ‘Flavoured bombshell with up to 600 consistent puffs’ and ‘Why do you need Crystal if you can have Diamond Bar?’. Text under the video stated, ‘#ad Diamond Vape bars! The new way to vape!’ Available in the link in my bio.”
The ASA believed these all broke the code.
It said: “Vapes Bars Ltd said they had contacted the influencers involved and asked them to take down the promotional videos featuring Vapes Bars products. They said they would actively monitor the situation in future to ensure that the content was removed from social media platforms.
“Angelysiaa said that this was a gifted collaboration and she had received no payment from Vapes Bars Ltd. She said there was no contract for the partnership. She said that, in future she would not receive gifts of any vape or post on her social media promoting or encouraging the sales of vapes.”
In the third ruling, “a TikTok post from Izzi Alice Mitchell’s account, @izzialicexo, seen on 18 May 2023 featured an electronic cigarette and the text ‘Zozoo [sic] drag bar 700 puffs. Grape flavour. Long last flavour. Smooth puff. 10/10’. Text at the bottom of the post stated ‘#Ad #consistentflavoursmostpuffs #freshzovoo #vapewithzovoo Paid partnership’.”
The complainant again challenged on the basis that advertising vape products on TikTok is banned.
The ASA responded: “ZOVOO (Shenzhen) Technology Co Ltd did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
“TikTok said the promotion of vapes was prohibited under their branded content policy and the ad was shown in error. The video was deleted by the user on 18 May, the same day the complainant saw the content, and no longer appeared on the platform.”