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E-cigarette adverts to be made illegal in EU

E-cigarettes cannot be advertised in magazines, newspapers, on TV and on radio, from May 2016, the Department of Health (DH) announced today.

E-cigarettes were invented in 2003 after being developed in Beijing, China by Hon Lik, a 52 year old pharmacist. Public Health England estimates they are 95% less harmful to your health than normal cigarettes, and when supported by a smoking cessation service, help most smokers to quit tobacco altogether.

Last week the DH confirmed that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) will be prescribed in GP practices in the new year as a useful tool in smoking cessation services.

However, across the European Union (EU) it will be illegal for e-cigarettes and re-fill containers to be commercially advertised or promoted, directly or indirectly, if the draft bill is passed.

The new move has been met with surprise from Stop Smoking Service manager Louise Ross, from Leicester City. She said: “Advertising (e-cigarette) products widely and in a way that makes adults want to buy them is a step towards reducing smoking rates."

The proposed rules would not prevent public health campaigns or local stop smoking services messaging, but would limit all commercial advertising.

“The more confidence the public have, and the more knowledge they have, about switching to something that is infinitely safer than a smoked cigarette, the bigger the public health gain. Above all, e-cigarettes have the potential to help people step away from a product that kills half the people who use it - the tobacco cigarette,” she added.

Similarly to these proposed rules The Committee of Advertising Practice ruled last month that adverts must not show tobacco "in a positive light", amid concerns that showing e-cigarette use could normalise the image of smoking.

Responding to this, Professor Martin McKee from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine recently told the BBC: "A lot of questions need to be answered about e-cigarettes before adverts are even considered.

"First we need to get an agreement on whether they aid people to quit smoking or whether they become a lifestyle choice that people are going to use for 40 years - this hasn't been resolved yet. And there are still huge questions about their safety," he added.

To see the draft click here