The first TV campaign in almost 50 years to feature someone smoking will be broadcast tonight during a break in ITV’s detective drama Grantchester.
One of the adverts shows a woman saying, “the great taste of VIP e-cigarettes and e-liquids”, before smoking the battery-powered cigarette. In a second clip to be shown in the same break, she says: “you know that feeling you get, when something’s great? You can touch it, hold it, even see it. Well, now you can taste it”.
While e-cigarette adverts have been around for over 18 months, this is the first to show someone actually using the device. Before today it was illegal to show someone smoking the e-cigarette due to concerns that it would encourage people to take up the habit.
Last month it was announced that e-cigarette manufacturers would be allowed to show their products on television from now on — as long as the campaigns didn’t feature under-25s, or anyone who looks under-25, using the device.
The revised regulations also stipulate that adverts must be shown after the watershed and cannot reference youth culture in any way that could appeal to under 18s.
Tonight, e-cigarette company VIP will be the first to take advantage of this controversial change in law.
VIP co-founder Dave Levin said: “This advert will mark the first time in almost 50 years that TV audiences see someone exhale what appears to be cigarette smoke on an advert – however, it is actually vapour from an e-cigarette that they will see.
He added: “We aren’t afraid to provoke a debate about e-cigarettes. They are part of our society and we’re offering our customers a healthier alternative to smoking.”
Critics are concerned that showing e-cigarette use normalises smoking, and anti-smoking campaigners have previously attacked adverts for “sexualising” e-cigarettes.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also warned that the vapour released by e-cigarettes may be harmful and there have been calls for more research into their impact on health.
In the UK, tobacco advertising was banned on television in 1965 and banned outright in 2002.
Watch the adverts: