Vaping adverts that appeared on TikTok despite breaking the platform’s own rules have been banned by the UK regulator.
The app‘s community guidelines prohibit the promotion of tobacco products, including vapes and e-cigarettes.
But videos marketing Zovoo, Innofly HK, Vapes Bars, and The Disposable Vape Store all appeared in recent months.
In one for the latter, posted by the account @tdvsbackup, a man stood in front of shelves of e-cigarettes and said “these are new SKE Amare Crystal” and they were “looking really good”.
“Some of the flavours are selling out, so I thought I’d let you guys know,” he added.
The video was one of around 300 posts reported to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), which has forbidden adverts for e-cigarettes containing nicotine that are not licensed as medicines.
The Disposable Vape Store told the ASA it had seen rival shops running TikTok ads and thought it was allowed, but vowed not to do so again.
In Innofly HK’s case, the account @vanillaspit posted a video of an influencer rapping about its Waka vapes.
The user claimed they were contacted by a company offering to send her vapes.
Innofly HK told the ASA it was taking “all necessary steps” to ensure its marketing practices stuck to the rules, including not posting ads on TikTok.
Vapes Bars also vowed to ensure it would monitor social media for rule-breaking content relating to its brand and ensure such posts were removed.
The ASA said it had found numerous TikTok videos of influencers giving the company’s devices away.
Zovoo was the only firm not to respond to the ASA’s inquiries.
One post promoting its products, from the account @izzialicexo, praised its “long last flavour” and “smooth puff”.
Sky News has contacted Zovoo for comment.
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‘We are taking action’
The ASA said cracking down on vaping ads on social media was a “high priority” and brands would face “targeted enforcement action” if they did not address ongoing problems.
“We know people are concerned about young people vaping and ads for vaping products appearing on social media where they shouldn’t and being likely to appeal or be targeted at under-18s,” it added.
“That’s why we’re taking action, banning ads that break the rules and ensuring they’re removed quickly.”
TikTok pointed Sky News towards its community guidelines, which ban the showing or promoting of the trade of tobacco products, as well as alcohol and drugs.
A spokesperson added: “Our community guidelines make clear that TikTok strictly prohibits content promoting the trade of vaping products, e-cigarettes, or tobacco products. We continue to work with the ASA to ensure advertisers and creators comply with the CAP Code as well as our rules.”
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It comes amid calls to ban disposable vapes altogether in the UK on health and environmental grounds.
Local councils have said they are a “hazard” to waste collectors and almost impossible to recycle, while the British Medical Association has described vaping as a “growing epidemic”.