VAPING firm Vype, which used celebrities including Lily Allen to promote its e-cigs, has been banned from advertising on Instagram.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received complaints about seven Vype posts from earlier this year, three of which featured captioned pictures of singer Lily Allen.
Other posts promoting Vype congratulated Rami Malek on his Bafta best actor award for Bohemian Rhapsody and featured a picture of Love Island star Olivia Jade Attwood smoking an e-cigarette.
The ruling has been handed down by the ASA following complaints from anti-smoking campaign groups that the posts broke advertising rules.
Under UK law, companies aren’t allowed to advertise e-cigarettes online.
Three other e-cigarette firms – Ama Vape Lab, Attitude Vapes and Mylo Vapes – have also been told to stop promoting their wares on the social network site.
A post by Mylo Vape in October included a picture of a woman with an e-cigarette and the caption “#repost @rae_eleanor loving her #mylo”.
While Attitude Vapes posted a black and white image of someone smoking an e-cigarette with the caption “Attitude is everything #LiquidsWithAttitude”.
Ama Vape’s post in March included an image of someone smoking its Shock Spearmint product with the caption “SHOCK Spearmint! With @amiiegiffen.”
British American Tobacco (BAT), which owns Vype, and the other three companies all argued their Instagram posts simply provided permitted factual information such as the name, content and price of their products.
But the ASA disagreed, ruling that the posts “clearly went beyond the provision of factual information” and were promotional in nature.
It’s banned the ads and said they can’t be used again unless the firms ensure they can only be seen by their followers and not by other users.
The ASA said: “We considered that material from a public Instagram account was not analogous to a retailer’s own website and that material posted from such an account was therefore subject to the prohibition on advertising of unlicensed, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, meaning that neither promotional nor factual content was permitted.”
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.”
Simon Cleverly, group head of corporate affairs at British American Tobacco, added: “While we believed that the content included in the complaint was compliant with the ASA’s CAP Code, we will abide by the ASA’s decision and recommendation to remove the relevant posts and amend our Instagram account settings.”
The Sun has contacted Ama Vape Lab, Attitude Vapes and Mylo Vapes.
The vaping age limit is to be raised to 21 in the US after e-cig lung illness kills more than 50.
It comes as a new vaping “popcorn lung-like” injury has been seen in a teenage e-cigarette user.
In the UK experts say we’re facing a “vaping epidemic” as the number of teens experimenting with e-cigs DOUBLES.