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British TV Criticized For Airing E-Cigarette Commercial


And the first commercial for an e-cigarette has aired on British television - five decades after ads for real cigarettes were banned there.Vicki Barker reports.


VICKI BARKER, BYLINE: The ad shows two fit, attractive 20-somethings running through a darkened cityscape, leaping into the future on a cloud of vapor.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Pure satisfaction for smokers: Vype e-cigarettes - experience the breakthrough.

BARKER: British American Tobacco, or BAT, plans to run the ad 300 times over the next few months. It's a lucrative market: more than a million British smokers are believed to have switched to e-cigarettes, and right now there are no restrictions on their sale.

But the British Medical Association's Vivian Nathanson fears the ad is trying to get a whole new generation of young people hooked on nicotine.

VIVIAN NATHANSON: What this is doing is making the use of nicotine look attractive, socially-successful and all of those things, which we used to see associated with cigarette smoking.

BARKER: Chris Snowden says e-cigarettes helped him quit smoking. Snowden works for a free market think tank. And he says, keep this market free.

CHRIS SNOWDEN: A study came out in the Lancet last year showing that e-cigarettes are effective in helping some people give up - at least as effective as the nicotine patches and gums which are allowed to be advertised on TV. So I think you need a very good reason if you're going to ban any form of advertising on television.

BARKER: BAT told The New York Times it's trying to be appropriate and responsible in the absence of clear guidelines on e-cigarette advertising. Those guidelines may yet be clarified: British regulators say they will begin consultations within weeks.

For NPR News, I'm Vicki Barker in London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Vicki Barker