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CAP Enforcement Notice Questioned

The UK Vaping Industry Association is seeking clarification following the recent Committee of Advertising Practice enforcement notice on the prohibition of vaping ads on social media

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The UK Vaping Industry Association is seeking clarification following the recent Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) enforcement notice on the prohibition of vaping ads on social media. The CAP Executive claims its advice about non-broadcast advertising does not constitute legal advice and does not bind it, the CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.

CAP says: “Under rule 22.12, nicotine-containing products and their components are prohibited from being advertised in certain media, unless they are licensed as medicines.  In addition to our guidance, marketers may wish to refer to the Department of Health’s published guidance on the advertising of e-cigarettes.

“The prohibition relates to nicotine-containing disposable e-cigarettes (any product intended for the inhalation of vapour via a mouth piece – ‘vaping’), nicotine-containing e-liquids and any e-cigarette which can be used to consume nicotine-containing e-liquid, even if it is marketed as being for the consumption of non-nicotine containing e-liquid (‘vape products’).”

CAP is suggesting businesses set their social media accounts to private and only make factual posts to adults who have sought out their page.

The UKVIA says it is particularly concerned that “factual (non-promotional) information” should only be made available to those who have “actively and specifically sought it out” which would limit such content to social media accounts set to “private.”

The trade body stated: “We are especially worried that this means factual posts, such as repeating evidence-based statistics such as vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking, for our annual VApril Vape Awareness Month will now be deemed unlawful.

“Around 40% of UK smokers wrongly believe that vaping is at least as harmful, or even more harmful, than cigarettes which suggests we need more evidence-based vaping facts on social media, not less.

“One of the main aims of VApril is to use both paid and organic posts on LinkedIn, X and Facebook to give facts to smokers to help them make informed decisions over how they consume nicotine.

“We have written to the CAP for clarification on this matter because facts about vaping and ads promoting vaping products are two very different things indeed.”

CAP says that after March 28, it will enforce restrictions under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 which prohibit ‘ads that have the direct or indirect effect of promoting nicotine-containing electronic cigarette products’ from being shown in most social media.

The Enforcement Notice says: “Electronic cigarette ads are prohibited in any online media where content is shared to users who have not specifically sought it out.

“This means paid-for display ads in all online space are prohibited, but it also means that regular, non-paid-for posts and content in social media, which might get shared by an algorithm to users, are prohibited too.”

The UKVIA is highlighting that an Advertising Standards Authority webinar covering the rules on social media vape ads will take place on March 21 at 10am.

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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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