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Manipulating public perception

Smoke-Free World’s research may promote PMI’s ”reduced risk” products

Smoke-Free World’s research may promote PMI’s ”reduced risk” products

A recent media release of a research commissioned by the PMI-funded Foundation for Smoke-Free World (SFW) concluded among others, that “there is confusion among smokers about the relative harms of smoking and less harmful alternatives, which impacts their motivations to quit and their choices about how to quit.” Dr Yach in a press release on video on their website suggest the data can strengthen the voices of smokers and vapers in push for better advocacy and “smart regulation” in the various countries (see:

The survey method was however not so clear and it suggests that the study sample included for South Africa seem sub-optimal and maybe biased towards survey of more dependent smokers than previously been reported in nationally representative sample of smokers in peer-reviewed publications (see: How quickly one takes a first cigarette is usually used as a proxy measure for the level of nicotine addiction. The fact that the SFW’s survey results suggested as high as 59% of South African smokers (highest of all countries) smoke a few minutes after waking suggests this might be a highly addicted population of smokers that was surveyed. This is especially likely so, when taken together with the fact that only 36% reportedly had made quit attempt in past. This again, was an unusual finding compared to many others’ past publications that have consistently found that over 50% of smokers have tried to quit. It has also been suggested by others that the SFW’s results might be biased as recently reported in the Business Day (see:

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E-cigarette advert to be  pulled off air

E-cigarette advert to be pulled off air

South Africa’s Advertising Standards Authority has ordered one of South Africa’s largest e-cigarette manufacturers to remove an advert it flighted on pay to view channels, promoting e-cigarettes.

The advert is a prime example of  the how the tobacco industry attempts to manipulate public perception with its products.

The National Council Against Smoking released the statement below:

The National Council Against Smoking welcomes the decision handed down last week by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that a commercial flighted by Twisp (Pty) Ltd on Etv and DStv showing people smoking e-cigarettes and blowing out colourful hot air balloons, butterflies and colour swirls was in contravention of its Code of Advertising Practice on the grounds that it promoted this activity without any indication that it was not healthy.

Although e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they still contain nicotine and research is indicating that there are in fact a growing number of harmful side effects from smoking e-cigarettes. Advertisements like the Twisp advertisement which glamourise and popularise e-cigarette smoking are irresponsible and not in the interest of public health.

The complaint was brought to the ASA by fourteen respondents, including the Programme Manager of the National Council Against Smoking. The complainants alleged that the advert promoted smoking e-cigarettes which is an unhealthy activity. Some complainants also alleged that advertising e-cigarettes also known as vaping was illegal it terms of the Tobacco Products Act which prohibits cigarette advertising.

The ASA found it did not have jurisdiction to decide the issue of illegality. Nor could its decisions bind non-members. However it did decide that the commercial violated clause 13 of its Code which in brief states that:

“… advertisements should not without reason… contain any visual representation of dangerous practices or situations which show as disregard for safety.”

The ASA noted that on the material before it, although vaping was considered safer than smoking it “…still has considerable health dangers associated herewith.”  The ASA found that even Twisp’s own material bore this out.

The ASA noted the commercial had images of young and beautiful people vaping and exhaling butterflies, art, hot air balloons and fireworks. The ASA concluded that this glamorised vaping without indicating that it was not healthy and that this encouraged people to vape as opposed to promoting it as a better alternative to smoking.

The effect of this ruling on the 26 January 2018 is that ASA members are advised not to accept the Twisp commercial in its current format with immediate effect. The National Council Against Smoking will be monitoring ASA members’ adherence to this ruling.


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