Vape crackdown puts TikTok and influencers in the dock

vape_ecigarette_beauty-2843930_1280The ad watchdog has launched a major crackdown on TikTok creators, battering eight influencers for plugging nicotine-containing vapes of four separate brands despite not a single complaint from the public being lodged.

A company called Vape Bars was by far the biggest culprit, running promotions from five separate influencers – @asmxlls, @silvanuslnd, @perkioldn, @angelysiaa and @nathanbyrnee – which flagged a range of offers, including a 15% discount, with a link to Vape Bars.

Meanwhile, a post from Izzi Alice Mitchell’s account, @izzialicexo, promoted an electronic cigarette from Zovoo, even though Ms Mitchell seemed to have a problem spelling the name of the brand correctly. The text stated: “Zozoo [sic] drag bar 700 puffs. Grape flavour. Long last flavour. Smooth puff. 10/10”.

In addition, a post from the account @tdvsbackup promoted e-cigarette shop The Disposable Vape Store, and finally a post from the account @vanillaspit featured the influencer rapping about WAKA vapes (from Innofly HK).

In all cases the Advertising Standards Authority launched its own investigation, challenging whether the ads breached the Code by promoting unlicensed, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and their components on TikTok.

In nearly all cases, the response was the same – the firm behind the activity either protested their innocence or did not realise they had done anything wrong; most influencers, meanwhile, stayed surprisingly silent.

Then again, it seems TikTok was clueless to what was going on, too. The social media giant said that, despite them all running, the videos actually violated its community guidelines, which prohibited the facilitation of trade of tobacco products, including vapes/e-cigarettes. TikTok then confirmed all posts had been deleted.

Nevertheless, the ASA was not done with the matter.

Even though all posts had been removed, the watchdog banned them all for good measure and issued a stiff warning to all parties over future activity. It added: “Marketing communications with the direct or indirect effect of promoting nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and their components which were not licensed as medicines should not be made from a public TikTok account.”

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