E-Cigarette Ads Banned

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(Newswire.net — January 6, 2016) — Adverts for junk food and alcohol have not always been treated with the same contempt as ads for e-cigarettes.  Yet the effect of poor dietary choices on health may be even more pronounced than those from vaping.

According to recent figures, poor diet is just as deadly as smoking. Statistics released by the Public Health Education (PHE) have recorded 10.8% of deaths are caused by poor diet, with smoking related deaths at 10.7%. Alcohol related deaths have also risen; there’s a 57% rise in liver cancer deaths and 42% from cirrhosis.

According to an “expert independent evidence review” by Public Health England, e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that they can help smokers beat their addiction. So why are they negatively received?

Banning of e-cigarette adverts

In May this year, e-cigarette ads on social media were banned for appealing to under

18s. Anti-smoking activists believe these adverts glamorize the act of smoking and could influence non-smokers.

To avoid younger audiences, e-cigarette adverts are not allowed to be shown pre-watershed and must not appear to encourage audiences to smoke or vape.

However, in 2014 three adverts were banned for glamorizing smoking; most notably VIP cigarettes, who received 199 complaints, including from organizations such as ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) and the British Medical Association (BMA) for showing close ups of smoke vapor.

Do E-cigarettes appeal to non-smokers?

The main argument against e-cigarette adverts is that they could encourage non-smokers to try smoking or vaping. However, studies conducted by ASH have found use amongst non-smokers is negligible, meaning advertising is not converting people towards smoking, rather encouraging existing smokers to choose a healthier option. In fact, e-cigarette company TABlites have cited that 61% of users choose vaping to help them quit smoking.

Their use as an aid to give up smoking is becoming more prevalent, as out of approximately 2.6 million adults in Great Britain using electronic cigarettes, 1.1 million are ex-smokers. This success has encouraged the NHS to debate prescribing e-cigarettes to smokers, as switching to electronic vaping would reduce smoking related deaths from 80,000 to 4,000 a year.

Diet is more deadly than smoking

Figures suggest that around 32,000 UK deaths from cancer a year are related to excess weight, as 64% of adults are classed as overweight or obese. What’s more, the NHS has spent over £7million adapting services for overweight patients, equating to 40% of NHS resources being spent on preventable lifestyle factors.

Yet, food, particularly junk food, is still being heavily advertised on television, posters and even social media. The hashtag #foodporn is popular amongst food bloggers and generally relates to heavily calorific meals. Moreover, supermarket chains, such as M&S, base their marketing campaigns around glamorizing food and fast food giants McDonald’s may advertise the healthy side of their products, using phrases of ‘100% chicken breast’, but fail to mention actual calorie, salt and sugar content.

Giving junk food an advertising slot

Recent discussions by MPs are proposing no adverts for junk food before 9pm as an attempt to tackle childhood obesity, whilst there is increasing pressure to introduce a 20% sugar tax on soft drinks, which has been a centre of political row between the government and the PHE. David Cameron has currently ruled out the possibility of introducing a tax, yet campaigners claim it could raise £1 billion to spend on tackling obesity.

Health committees have also made calls for changes to packaging, a project fronted by TV chef Jamie Oliver. They want to have graphic warnings on the side of drinks with illustrations of how many spoons of sugar a product contains, so it is clearer to a customer what they are consuming. 

What about alcohol advertising

Unlike food advertisements, similar restrictions to e-cigarettes adverts have been placed on alcohol. Tight restrictions on alcohol adverts include that it must not appeal to underage audiences and it should not to promote binge drinking. Yet, unlike e-cigarettes, alcohol is still being presented as glamorous and desirable. For example, Echo Falls managed to use the slogan ‘Life’s great when things just happen’, which seems to suggest that alcohol consumption leads to life being ‘great’.

Another example is the latest James Bond film Spectre, where alcohol companies Belvedere, Bollinger and Heineken all feature as product placements. Products promoted by Bond are highly sought after, with Heineken rumored to have paid $45 million for its product placement. Yet, as the film’s age restriction only being 12A, this alcohol placement was advertised to an underage audience.

Despite this, Smirnoff recently had an advert banned for implying alcohol led to the success of a social occasion, indicating adverts are still closely monitored and regulated. Yet, as e-cigarettes remain scorned, junk food and alcohol advertising still play a large role in television advertising without any consequence for the effect on health.