ASA Stamps Out E-Cig Maker’s Ad

Watchdog claims poster misleads consumers

The Advertising Standards Authority has nixed a poster ad by London-based e-cigarette maker LeoLites.

Specifically, the ad was banned because of the slogan "love your lungs," which the ASA deemed misleading, according to an article in The Drum. While manufacturer E&L Distribution claimed the words were intended as a catchy product tagline, an ASA spokesman accused the ad of touting vaporizers as a benign or even beneficial alternative to regular cigarettes. But he said the ad would not have been censored had it clarified that e-cigs merely pose fewer health risks than standard tobacco.

The U.K. watchdog's action came one week after a 62-year-old Liverpool man died when his oxygen tank exploded on contact with a charging e-cigarette. The product has been associated with nine fires in North West England's Merseyside over the last seven months.

Here in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration has stepped down on the e-cig industry with a set of proposals that include warning label requirements and a ban on underage sales. Backers of the proposed regulations allege the product has been misleadingly advertised, particularly on social media. And a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control showed vaporized consumption has soared among teens.

While those in the e-cig industry have waged no fight over age restrictions, some have argued the other regulations could lead to a lengthy and costly application process, similar to the one currently faced by the tobacco industry. The Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association has claimed that such regulations would be unfair to what it calls "a new category of technology product." Marketing for the new product has boomed over the last two years, with six of the leading e-cig makers spending roughly $59.3 million in marketing during 2013.