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ASA bans 'misleading' e-cig advert

5/2/14

By Tom Donnelly

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a poster advertising a brand of electronic cigarettes after concerns were raised over similarities with a major stop smoking campaign.

ASA decided the advert for Nicolites e-cigarettes must not appear again after ruling it breached regulations by suggesting the device could be used as a quitting aid.

The watchdog said that the poster, headlined with the phrase "Kicks Butt", was too similar to the stop smoking campaign "Kick Butt", with consumers likely to associate the two.

'Kick Butt' campaign similarities

Nicocigs, the company that makes Nicolites, said the "Kicks Butt" slogan did not suggest any medicinal benefit and therefore the product did not have, nor need, any marketing authorisation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Nicocigs added that it had no knowledge of the "Kick Butt" campaign and had not intended to associate itself with it.

The standards authority said: "We were concerned that, given the similarity between the phrase "Kicks Butt" and the smoking prevention campaign "Kick Butt", consumers were likely to believe that the product was in some way associated with Kick Butt.

'Ad breached Code'

"And they therefore were likely to believe that the product was suitable for use as a smoking cessation device.

"Because we considered the ad implied that consumers could use the product for smoking cessation and we understood that the product had not been licensed by the MHRA for that purpose, we concluded that the ad breached the Code in that regard."

The ASA ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form, after receiving two complaints.


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