Regulations Banning Advertising of E-cigarettes in Newspapers, Magazines and Periodicals Come into Force Next Month

From 20 May, it will be illegal to advertise e-cigarettes or refills in newspapers, magazines and periodicals.

The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 set out the restrictions on promoting e-cigarettes in Part 7.  When the regulations come into force next month, newspapers will not be allowed to take advertisements for e-cigarettes, or any advertisement which has the direct or indirect effect of promoting one.

Subject to limited exceptions, it will be a criminal offence to publish or procure the publication of an electronic cigarette advertisement in a newspaper, periodical or magazine. It will also be an offence for any one in the course of business to sell, offer for sale or otherwise make available to the public a newspaper, periodical or magazine containing an electronic cigarette advertisement.

The regulations are very broad, and prohibit advertisements that:

  • Promote nicotine vapour
  • Promote an electronic cigarette
  • Promote anything that could be used to inhale nicotine vapour via a mouth piece, or any component of that product
  • Indirectly promote the above products, regardless of whether the ad relates to a specific brand

This could include, for example, an unbranded ad that suggests the use of e-cigarettes to help people to stop smoking.

Following representations made by the News Media Association, the regulations include a publishers’ defence, in addition to general due diligence: “S50(3): In any proceedings for an offence against a person under regulations 42(1) or 43 it is a defence that the person did not know and had no reason to suspect that the advertisement was an electronic cigarette advertisement.”

In advance of these regulations being published, CAP gave this guidance.

As a result of the changes, the NMA is updating Ad Points to Watch in the legal resources section of its website. Ad Points to Watch is a topic-by-topic user friendly A-Z guide to advertising regulations for member publishers.  

If NMA members have any questions about the application of these regulations, they should contact the NMA’s legal, policy and regulatory affairs department.