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‘Stop Marketing Electronic Cigarettes at Children’ Warns Council Group


‘Stop Marketing Electronic Cigarettes at Children’ Warns Council Group

Hot on the heels of an electronic cigarette advert being criticised for containing themes that were considered too ‘adult’, the industry’s marketing techniques are again under attack – but this time for not being adult enough.

The Local Government Association (LGA), who represent almost 400 English and Welsh councils,  has accused electronic cigarettes companies of exploiting the ‘haziness’ of the product and has suggested that vaping could potentially become a gateway to children smoking normal cigarettes.

Innovative packaging and group discount vouchers are just two of the ways in which the electronic cigarette industry is purported to be marketing its wares to under 18s.

Katie Hall, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board explained: “It is totally unacceptable for e-cigarette advertisers to target children. We cannot allow these devices to become a first step to long-term regular smoking for a generation of youngsters.

“Manufacturers of e-cigarettes have repeatedly claimed they don't market to kids but their actions tell a vastly different story. They are using the same sophisticated tactics long employed to sell regular cigarettes. These involve sweet flavours, social media, celebrity and competitions.”

This outburst seems to stand in stark contrast to the behaviour demonstrated by many electronic cigarette suppliers and brands who explicitly banned the sale of their products to under 18s even when there were no legal obligations. These brands were acting on a self-imposed moral and ethical code, even if it meant potential loss of sales. 

New restrictions are currently being discussed by the Committee of Advertising Practice regarding the advertising of electronic cigarette. The LGA will be hoping that tighter regulations come to fruition.

Ms Hall continued: "Responsibly marketed and properly regulated, e-cigarettes and other nicotine delivery systems can benefit public health by helping smokers to quit.

"They can significantly reduce the number of people who use conventional cigarettes and die of tobacco-related disease.

"However, if they continue to be irresponsibly marketed, they could make regular cigarettes look glamorous again and undermine decades of hard work to reduce youth smoking.

"We welcome news that advertising watchdogs have launched a public consultation and we hope it results in tough and immediate action."

There is currently no evidence which indicated that e cigs are consciously or subconsciously making themselves attractive to minors through marketing, branding or the use of flavours. Furthermore, accusations that electronic cigarettes are acting as a gateway to traditional tobacco cigarettes is completely unfounded.

Research material by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) both indicate that electronic cigarettes are not attractive to young people and are not being used as a gateway to smoking.



14th March 2014, 16:36