Vaping companies face ASA scrutiny over targeting children and misinformation

Watchdog launched probes into two businesses, with third under consideration.

Blu: complainants argue ads encourage non-smokers to vape
Blu: complainants argue ads encourage non-smokers to vape

Two vaping companies are under investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority over ads for e-cigarettes that, according to complaints, are targeting under-18s and contain misinformation.

Vype, owned by British American Tobacco, and Blu have received three and 13 complaints respectively. Blu's poster ads have been accused of encouraging non-smokers to vape, while Vype has run social media activity on Instagram that people are concerned targets children. Both are being investigated.

Meanwhile, the ASA is considering whether to investigate a cinema ad for Juul, which has garnered 21 complaints for not making clear the risks of vaping, encouraging non-smokers to vape and not being age-appropriate.

The news comes as growing numbers of reports suggest that vaping might not be as safe as has previously been reported. In the US, San Francisco became the first US city to ban sales of e-cigarettes over health scares. Conversely, in the UK, they are promoted by the NHS and Public Health England as a viable and safe means of quitting smoking.

Blu recently ran an activation during music festival season with work aimed at "normalising vaping". Executions carried lines such as: "I Blu, do you? New MyBlu. Handy and easy vaping."

In the US, Juul has been pressured into stopping testing vaping on humans.

Last year, Blu appointed MSQ Partners and Fold7-backed brand experience agency Hyperactive to work on a campaign for a new product.

Last week, Imperial Tobacco retained BBDO for its global advertising account. Blu is owned by Imperial Tobacco parent Imperial Brands' Fontem Ventures, although BBDO does not work on that brand.