A leading vaping brand has been banned from promoting its products on public Instagram accounts after falling foul of a slew of advertising rules.
Vype, owned by British American Tobacco (BAT), will have to keep its profile on private after breaking rules around flogging the devices to young people.
It was also criticised for using celebrities such as Lily Allen, Remi Malek and Olivia Coleman, as well as Love Island stars, to promote products containing nicotine.
Public Health England claims vaping is ’95 per cent safer than cigarettes’ and the body encourages smokers to make the switch for their health.
But campaign groups say firms are getting young people hooked on them by making the devices seem trendy through advertisements.
Vype was banned from promoting its devices on Instagram after it was found to have breached advertising rules. One which came under scrutiny was this one congratulating Lily Allen for her Brit Awards nomination
Another featured the singer playing the decks at a London Fashion Week event in Manchester
A third praised her for her partnership with House of Holland Catwalk. The advertising watchdog said the celebrity imagery was clearly used as a promotional tool
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled against Vype following complaints from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Stopping Tobacco Organisations and Products (STOP).
The complaints focused on Instagram posts from earlier this year, including three of Lily Allen. One included an image congratulating her for being nominated at the Brit Awards.
A separate post featured British actor Rami Malek and praised him for winning an award for his role as Freddie Mercury in the film Bohemian Rhapsody.
Another showed Love Island star Olivia Jade Attwood smoking an e-cigarette while at a London Fashion Week event in Manchester.
Vype was also slammed for showing a model who looked under 25 using its product in a separate Instagram story posted in February.
The ASA said this fell foul of rules designed to protect youngsters from taking up vaping nicotine.
These marketing regulations were introduced in 2016 following a change in law which imposed a widespread ban on the marketing of the devices.
The ASA said the ads ‘clearly went beyond the provision of factual information’ and used celebrity imagery as a promotional tool.
It said the ads ‘must not appear again in the form complained about’ and ‘should not be made from a public Instagram account in future, unless they had taken steps to ensure they would only be distributed to those following their account and would not be seen by other users.’
A separate post featured British actor Rami Malek and praised him for winning an award for his role as Freddie Mercury in the film Bohemian Rhapsody
Another showed Love Island star Olivia Jade Attwood smoking an e-cigarette while at the London Fashion Week event in Manchester
But BAT argued the Instagram posts simply provided permitted factual information such as the name, content and price of its products.
It said that the marketing would only have been seen by people ‘who had previously expressed an interest in, or sought out information regarding’ its devices.
The firm claimed it had taken measures to ensure models were over 25 and argued that most Lily Allen fans were between 25-34.
ASA’s crackdown also applied to three other firms – Mylo Vape UK, Attitude Vapes, and JuiceNPower.
They were found to have been promoting nicotine-infused products using images of people that looked younger than 25.
This post congratulated actress Olivia Coleman for her award for best leading actress in the film The Favourite
This Instagram story from February was singled out because the model looks younger than 25 – which breaches rules in place to protect young people
Professor Anna Gilmore, director of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, the research partner of Stop, said: ‘This is a major step forward in stopping the tobacco industry from promoting its new addictive products to children and teenagers.
‘But given that cigarette sales are falling and tobacco companies are desperate to recruit young people into using these new products, ongoing vigilance is essential.’
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health, said: ‘The law has always been clear that any advertising of e-cigarettes online is not permitted.
‘BAT’s defence that all they were doing was providing ‘information’ on social media, not promoting their products, has been blown out of the water.
‘The ASA ruling leaves no doubt that BAT’s social media tactics for Vype were both irresponsible and unlawful and must never be repeated.’
British schoolboy, 16, who suffered allergic reaction to his e-cigarette fluid was placed on life support after his organs failed
Ewan Fisher, now 19, was rushed to A&E in May 2017 after vomiting a neon green liquid and gasping for breath just four months after taking up e-cigarettes.
He had to be hooked up to life support in intensive care when his vital organs failed and an artificial lung was needed to pump oxygen through his body.
The teenager, from Nottingham, is believed to have suffered an exaggerated immune response to chemicals found in e-cigarette fluid.
He was diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), which sees the air sacs and airways in the lungs become severely inflamed.
Ewan Fisher, 19, had to be hooked up to life support and almost died from serious respiratory failure triggered by vaping
The condition is triggered by an allergic reaction to inhaled dust, fungus, moulds or chemicals.
The tale was revealed by Nottingham University Hospitals Trust doctors in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Case Reports.
The teenager revealed he stopped smoking a half pack of cigarettes a day at 16 because he wanted to focus on his boxing training.
He switched to puffing on two sweet-flavoured e-liquids around 14 times a day. But by May 2017, he gave them up too after developing a nasty cough.
Just days later he vomited a bright green liquid and was rushed to hospital by his panicked mother.
The life support saved him but he was in hospital for a month and did not fully recover for more than a year.