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Kiwi company advertises vaping to beat big tobacco

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand-owned and operated company responsible for the country’s first vaping television commercials, Alt, says it had little choice in advertising now and is confident the Advertising Standards Authority will not take issue.

The ASA has confirmed it received two complaints from the public about Alt’s television commercials that have been featuring after 8.30pm since November.

"Our ads are responsible and conservative so we’re pretty relaxed. The ads are not promising anything and they’re certainly not pitching at teens or young adults. Primarily we’re just pointing out the dangers of smoking and highlighting to smokers an alternative that costs less and has proven to be at least 95% less harmful than conventional cigarettes," says Ben Pryor - Director of Alt New Zealand.

Mr Pryor points to an ASA ruling earlier this year regarding a complaint about another e-cigarette company’s advertising - that time on the back of a bus. The ASA ultimately dismissed the complaint as it found it not to be overtly appealing to children and did not glamorise smoking.

"Our whole campaign is centred around our key ambition which is to help create a smoke-free New Zealand. Few can take exception to that aspiration!"

He says this latest debate highlights the urgent need for greater regulation and clarification around vaping, distinguishing the products from smoking. He notes that while nicotine is addictive it is not carcinogenic and can never be equated to smoking or put in the same category.

"We have been advocating for more regulation for five years now. It’s great that the Government announced last month that it will amend the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 next year. We hate trying to second guess what our business position is and young people need to be protected.

"As well as restricting where indoors vaping should take place, we also support the introduction of strict manufacturing standards. What’s more we strongly support regulating how the products are advertised because we’ve already seen cases overseas of big tobacco distinctively targeting teens."

He says as a New Zealand business, Alt had little commercial choice but to launch in recent weeks its advertising campaign targeting Kiwis keen to give up smoking.

"Big international tobacco companies are set to come into New Zealand with their own vaping and e-cigarette products and will be throwing their weight around. Not only will big tobacco try to cleverly target and align with young people but of course any of their profits are sent offshore.

"Whereas, as a New Zealand business we directly add to the economy and will be employing over 100 Kiwis by the end of next year."

He says any health concerns about vaping are increasingly fewer and further between.

"Only recently the chairperson of ASH publicly declared that New Zealand should be doing everything to encourage smokers to switch to vaping! The Ministry of Health also sees the positive benefits and ultimately if New Zealand is serious about achieving its Smoke Free 2025 goal, vaping and e-cigarette products must be readily available and advertised in a regulated and responsible manner," says Ben Pryor.

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