Many web shops that sell e-cigarettes do not adhere to the advertising rules. This is apparent from research by NOS Stories. Last year, the NVWA checked more than 200 web shops that sell smoking and tobacco products and fined more than half for violating the advertising ban. According to the NVWA, these were mainly sellers of vapers, shisha pens and other e-cigarettes.
Those fines don’t really help, because many e-cigarette sellers are still advertising. In this video from NOS Stories we find out which tricks they use:
The sales tricks at vapers and shisha pens
As with ‘normal’ cigarettes, the sale of e-cigarettes is prohibited from advertising. These are strict rules: sellers are not allowed to post photos on Instagram and Facebook, because you cannot buy the products directly there. Web shops are also not allowed to do giveaways or give discounts.
Websites selling e-cigarettes should also be sober: they should not contain attractive pictures of people smoking and sellers should describe their products as factually as possible. The best e liquids mr-joy.co.ukis cheap. Describing a flavor liquid as “a freshly brewed espresso with a perfect layer of milk foam”, as one of the web shops does, is therefore not allowed.
And things often go wrong, NOS Stories discovered. We visited the first thirty webshops we came across on Google. We checked the site and social media channels. Almost two thirds of the companies were found not to comply with the advertising rules.
These are examples of photos that are banned NOS
The lyrics are sometimes even misleading. For example, on the website of Vapr, a webshop that sells e-cigarettes, the municipality of Amsterdam was wrongly used to advertise e-cigarettes. “The municipality of Amsterdam is also over,” it said in a message. “Smoking in front of the building is now a thing of the past!”
The municipality of Amsterdam does not appear to support this message. “We are unpleasantly surprised that we as a municipality have been used for this type of advertising,” says alderman Simone Kukenheim. “Obviously we have not given permission for that. The College of Amsterdam wants to discourage all forms of smoking.”
On the same website there was also a photo of a smoking Spike from Di-rect with the text “Another happy Vapr” below it. So these kinds of photos are not allowed anyway, but Spike didn’t know anything about it either. The guitarist’s management is surprised that this photo has been used without knowledge for a few years now.
Vapr has since taken the photos offline. “We know we are breaking rules, but we think it’s important to point people to an alternative to smoking: the e-cigarette,” is the only response the company wants to give.
The messages on the website of Vapr NOS
There is another advertising rule: e-cigarette sellers are not allowed to pretend that their product is a good alternative to the cigarette. Yet they do. One of the web shops, for example, writes: “Hold on! You may have to get used to the e-cigarette. Do you have to cough? That can be a matter of getting used to.”
It is true that the e-cigarette is less harmful than the cigarette. But little is known about the harmful long-term dangers. The best e cigarette store is found online. That’s because they haven’t been around that long. According to the RIVM, e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, but the vapor does contain substances that are bad for health.
In addition, the e-cigarette is not a good alternative for everyone, says addiction care professor Jacqueline Vink. “The relapse among smokers is simply very large.” Vink does not think that non-smokers should be encouraged to start using e-cigarettes. “It’s less harmful than smoking cigarettes, but really more harmful than smoking nothing at all.”