Sunday 15 October 2017

Drafting An ASA E-Cigs Consultation Response

Tomorrow sees the deadline for a consultation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about regulations placed on ads for e-cigs.

The ASA claim this has come about due to products becoming more reliable, but it's fair to say that their rules have been pretty much overtaken by events. What with the Tobacco Control Plan recently putting emphasis on e-cigs being part of the government's future strategy, and with Stoptober prominently featuring vapers in their ads, the rules as they are currently laid out are quite absurd.  Reason being that the CAP & BCAP rules both prohibit claims which are demonstrably true.

The accompanying consultation document states that the purpose of the rules on e-cigs are to make sure ads are "not misleading". Well, it is not misleading to say that vaping is less harmful than smoking because the same has been said by Public Health England, the Royal College of Physicians and it is mentioned in government documents too. It's a bit of a nonsense, therefore, that business can't say such things just because a bunch of idological anti-vaping extremists lobbied dullard MEPs in 2013 to protect the makers of useless pharmaceutical patches and gums.

So the ASA is consulting on bringing the rules back into the realms of reality by relaxing the wording to possibly allow general claims of relative risk. Here is the wording they intend to change ... very slightly.

click to enlarge
The simple deletion of those two words would technically permit an e-cig vendor to put an A-frame outside his shop saying that e-cigs are 95% less harmful than cigarettes (although, to be fair, the ASA were always fighting a losing battle with this because I've seen vendors do it anyway. They can hardly fear a court case when they can safely back the claim). Common sense really, isn't it?

So it's a fairly simple consultation to respond to.
Question 1 
Do you agree with CAP and BCAP’s proposal to remove the prohibition on health claims from unlicensed nicotine-containing e-cigarettes? If not please explain why. Please also provide any relevant evidence not already taken into account by CAP and BCAP in making this proposal.
Well of course.

Remember that the ASA is running a campaign on the tube claiming that they are there to ensure adverts are truthful.

So what could be more appropriate than having rules which allow e-cig business to tell the truth? It's a no-brainer.
Question 2 
Do you agree with CAP and BCAP’s proposed changes to the wording of the rules, as set out above? If not please explain why
Seems fair enough, yes. It removes the blockage and will help counteract much of the fake news put out by certain tobacco control liars which has led to a majority of the public thinking vaping is just as bad as smoking.

The consultation then addresses the confusion in its rules which could feasibly mean health groups couldn't make the same claims in their adverts. The ASA proposes this qualification.

click to enlarge, again
Well, I suppose if it's fair enough that businesses can make those claims, we mustn't be churlish and say that the nannies can't.
Question 3 
Do you agree with CAP’s proposal to add qualifying text to the introductory text of the ecigarette section of its Code as set out above? If not please explain why.
Sigh, I guess so, yes.
Question 4 
Do you agree with the wording proposed? If not, please explain why and provide your suggestions as to how it should be amended.
Yes, it seems straightforward enough.
Question 5 
Do you have any other information or evidence that you think might be relevant to CAP’s consideration of its regulation of public health advertisements which refer to e-cigarettes?
Well, I think some organisations should be prohibited from calling themselves 'public health' groups, but that's a different issue, so no.

Talking of which, in case you're wondering why this consultation is worth taking part in, I think I only have to tell you the groups who have registered their objections to the relaxation of these advertising rules.
1. Blackpool Council
2. British Medical Association
3. Johnson & Johnson Ltd (What a surprise! - DP)
4. Proprietary Association of Great Britain
5. Royal College of Radiologists
6. The Welsh Government
They may be few - and laughably miguided - but the more responses we who are on the side of the angels submit in favour of the rules being changed, the more their pathetic voices are drowned out.

Responses are due in by 5pm on Monday 16th October 2017, that's tomorrow of course, so don't delay. Responses should be submitted as a Word attachment to or by fax to +44(0)20 7404 3404.

Go on, you know you want to.