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ASA Rules Against The Greatevape

The Advertising Standards Authority has considered a complaint and ruled against The for its advert on the TikTok social media platform

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The Advertising Standards Authority has considered a complaint and ruled against The for its advert on the TikTok social media platform. The Authority says that two issues in total were investigated and both were upheld. The announcement comes on the back of a number of other complaints made against vape companies.

The Advertising Standards Authority says: “A paid-for TikTok ad for The, seen in July 2023, featured a video of a military-style badge and silhouetted figures marching while music played. Superimposed text stated: ‘ENDLESS FLAVORS, LIMITLESS CHOICE FAST UK DELIVERY UNBEATABLE PRICES THOUSANDS OF PRODUCTS THEGREATEVAPE.COM’.”

The complainant contended that the ad breached the Advertising Code by directly or indirectly promoting unlicensed nicotine-containing e-liquids and their components in online media; and that TikTok had breached the rules for Video Sharing Platforms regulated by statute by including an ad for electronic cigarettes.

The Advertising Standards Authority reported: “The said they took full responsibility for any oversight, and that their internal investigation had found no intentional violation of the advertising rules. They were in the process of reviewing their advertising practices and implementing measures to ensure stricter compliance. Those measures included enhanced employee training and regular audits to prevent any future breaches.”

Representatives from TikTok told the Advertising Standards Authority that they took their responsibilities as a Video Sharing Platform very seriously and were committed to keeping users safe from inappropriate paid advertising.

The Advertising Standards Authority added: “They said the promotion of e-cigarettes was prohibited under their Advertising Policies and confirmed that the ad had been removed from the platform. They had established that an element of their moderation systems did not identify the ad as a vape promotion and prohibit it accordingly. Vapes might appear to resemble pens, highlighters, lipstick tubes and even toys and so at times raised challenges for moderation models.”

It was reported that the advert generated fewer than 1,000 views before it was removed, consequently it did not trigger additional rounds of moderation.

TikTok added that they were continuing to review and enhance their moderation systems as part of their internal quality assurance process. They were also committed to engaging with external bodies to identify regulatory challenges and develop partnerships to educate TikTok users about the risks of such products,” the Advertising Standards Authority said.

In upholding the assessment, the Authority said that CAP Code rule 22.12 reflected a ban as contained in the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR) on the advertising of unlicensed, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes in certain media.

The Advertising Standards Authority said: “The rule stated that, except for media targeted exclusively to the trade, marketing communications with the direct or indirect effect of promoting nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and their components that were not licensed as medicines were not permitted in newspapers, magazines and periodicals, or in online media and some other forms of electronic media.”

The Authority continued: “We considered that the ad contained promotional content for the product and consequently the restriction that applied to online media under rule 22.12 was applicable. We acknowledged that the had placed the ad in error. However, because the ad had the direct or indirect effect of promoting e-cigarettes that were not licensed as medicines in non-permitted media, we concluded that it breached the CAP Code.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 22.12 (Electronic cigarettes).

We acknowledged that TikTok’s moderation system had on this occasion not identified the ad as an e-cigarette promotion and that once notified they had taken swift action to remove it. However, because the ad was for a prohibited product, we concluded that it breached the VSP Appendix.”

The Advertising Standards Authority instructed that the advertisement must not appear again in the form complained about, adding “We told The that marketing communications with the direct or indirect effect of promoting nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and their components which were not licensed as medicines should not appear in online media. We reminded TikTok of their responsibility under the VSP Appendix to ensure that ads for electronic cigarettes did not appear on their platform.”

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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