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A still from the VIP e-cigarette ad
vaping on-air

Could e-cigarette ads like this showing smoking on air be coming to Irish TV?

Local sellers hope Ireland will follow the UK’s lead in featuring ‘vaping’ commercials on television.

CONTROVERSIAL ‘VAPING’ COMMERCIALS showing people puffing on e-cigarettes are not banned under Irish advertising laws, leaving the door open for suppliers to follow the lead of their UK counterparts.

Last night a racy commercial was broadcast on UK TV featuring a woman exhaling vapour from an e-cigarette – the first time smoking had been shown in an ad for decades.

Today a spokeswoman for the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) told there were no regulations specifically banning on-air e-cig advertising here.

“There will be a public consultation into the BAI commercial communications code in the new year, and this may be raised at that point,” she said.

Under the BAI’s rules, all cigarette and tobacco advertising is illegal – but the regulations do not mention e-cigarette smoking, also known as “vaping”.

Another section deals with “smoking aids”, although this only goes as far as stating that any products claiming to help people quit smoking also needed to make it clear they only worked with “the positive application of the consumer’s willpower”.

The UK’s advertising regulator relaxed its rules last month to allow the commercial to air, although a series of earlier ads from the e-cig company, VIP, were still barred for being too “overly sexual”.

vipcigarette / YouTube

Anti-tobacco advocates have called for all ads showing smoking to be outlawed for fear they will glamourise the practice and entice more young people to take up cigarettes.

Meanwhile, VIP, which also sells its products through a string of outlets in Ireland, has been busy cashing in on the publicity.

The company put out a media release yesterday in which its co-founder hailed “the first time in almost 50 years that TV audiences see someone exhale what appears to be cigarette smoke on an advert”.

Irish vaping ads should be opposed

Vaping has already been banned in Ireland’s biggest shopping centre outside designated smoking areas and the HSE has barred e-cigarettes from all its smoke-free campuses.

Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor said allowing e-cigarette ads to go to air would be a backwards step in the anti-tobacco fight as it would help normalise smoking again.

Fine Gael Think Ins Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O'Connor with Finance Minister Michael Noonan Eamonn Farrell / Photocall Ireland Eamonn Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

“As is often the case, if something happens in the UK, it won’t be too long arriving in Ireland,” she said.

I feel strongly that we need to oppose this type of advertising in Ireland as it normalises the act of smoking and could prove extremely damaging.”

Mitchell O’Connor said she didn’t believe e-cigarettes could be advertised “in a harmless way” and society couldn’t be allowed to “regress” to the point where images of glamorous people smoking meant more young people thought it was cool.

TV ads could reduce e-cig scaremongering

But Steve Barrett from Dublin’s Purplebox Vapours told that seeing e-cigarette ads on Irish TV would be a welcome move to reduce the “scaremongering” that surrounded vaping at the moment.

He said while he didn’t agree with smoking being glamorised in commercials, advertising could be used to spread the word about the benefits of e-cigarettes.

“I don’t feel that you can control what people do as a nanny state, you have to let people make an informed decision – even if things are potentially bad for you,” he said.

If that was the case, there would be an argument for McDonald’s not being able to advertise.

“So if e-cigarettes are saving millions of lives, they have benefits, there are no health risks as such … it just becomes an adult decision.”

READ: E-cigarette company up in smoke >

READ: More bad news for E-cigs: They’ve been banned in public places in New York >

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