For the last 5 years, people have been able to search sites such as eBay and Amazon for electronic cigarettes and alternative electronic smoking products. The listing of these items has been plentiful and the general public worldwide have been able to buy these electronic smoking devices without much trouble at all.
Things seem to be a changing!
Basically, there is regulation in place that means that paid for adverts that are served on the side and top of search engine result pages (serps), are not permitted to include offers for tobacco alternatives. This mainly relates to electronic cigarettes, e-liquids and other vaping products and devices. Yahoo, Bing and Google all monitor their advertisers content and copy, this means that certain keywords that an advertiser may use as a trigger for their advert to be served or shown are banned by the respective search engines.
eBay and Amazon could be deemed as “getting away with it” as certain adverts sometimes show up on Google searches in the paid for adwords and Google shopping section, these adverts include products which are deemed unsuitable to be listed by eBay and Amazon such as eliquids, which are used in the smoking of electronic cigarettes.
These adverts “slip through the net” due to eBay and Amazon having such large campaigns. This is something they will have to work on with Google, to try and combat breaching their own advertising guidelines including those of Google’s.
Because ecigs or ecigarettes are a relatively new addition to the smoking cessation industry, all operators involved in both the manufacture and marketing of these products are trying to form safer ways for us all to enjoy what could possibly be, a healthier alternative to smoking traditional tobacco and cigarettes.
However, advertisers will break rules. Both eBay and Amazon are committed to enforcing seller account action if they find a seller to be in breach of advertising guidelines for the listing of alternative smoking products and the current regulation that comes with them.
So, you can sell a pipe stand for an electronic pipe on eBay or Amazon but you cannot sell the atomizer for that pipe or the e-pipe bowl or e Pipe itself. You can sell an instruction book that comes with an e-pipe but you cannot sell the electronic smoking pipe or parts.
Well, the e Pipe is basically an e-Cigarette in disguise. It offers similar options to a user that an ecig would do but ePipes just look and operate differently. Not too dissimilar to a motorbike and motor car. They are both forms of transportation but they both do it in a different way.
From our own experience of selling items of this nature on eBay and Amazon, we have found that there are internal inconsistencies in the way that the listings are determined “breaches of policy”. This is something that the trust and safety teams are working hard on and once continuity is formed within these departments, we may all find that electronic smoking devices and their associated products, will not be available via any paid for advertising online, globally!
If Reuters suddenly announced around the world that these electronic cigarette (eCig) products were now licensed as a medical aid to quitting smoking and were recognised by the World Health Organisation or FDA as the way to move ahead to cease the world’s dependency on tobacco products, then the likes of you and me could simply continue to buy these alternative smoking devices from paid for online advertisements.
- Why can I still find electronic cigarettes on eBay and Amazon?
This is most probably because the listing teams at both companies are not really sure what is allowable and what is not when it comes to e-Cigs and eLiquids. eBay allows the sale of nicotine free items such as e-Liquids which have zero nicotine content or shisha pens which also tend to be nicotine free products. This seems to be confusing the issue, certainly from the sellers’ perspective.
If you can sell an electronic smoking pen (with a fruit flavour but without nicotine) that uses the same technology as an ecig battery and atomizer, why can you not sell the battery and atomizer without any liquid or nicotine content
The battery on its own is exactly that, just a battery with a button. When it is connected to an atomizer or clearomizer it becomes a complete and usable eCig.
- So why can you buy the eliquid without nicotine?
Surely, if you add nicotine at home or not, technically speaking, the eliquid is still a tobacco alternative because people have reduced to zero nicotine liquids through vaping. Or they simply choose to vape with zero nicotine, but again, technically, are they “smoking” or "vaping"?.
- Wikipedia meaning of smoking = “Smoking is a practice in which a substance is burned and the resulting smoke breathed in to be tasted or inhaled”
- Medical Dictionary meaning of smoking = “Smoking is the inhalation of the smoke of burning tobacco encased in cigarettes, pipes, and cigars”
- Oxford Dictionaries meaning of smoking = “The action or habit of inhaling and exhaling the smoke of tobacco or a drug”
- Oxford Dictionaries meaning of vape = [NO OBJECT] Inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device: I’d rather people vaped indoors than smoked outside - [WITH OBJECT]: many smokers have started vaping e-cigarettes to help them cut down - (as noun vaping) there’s concern that young people may take up vaping as a less harmful alternative to smoking.
The operative words / phrases above being "alternative to smoking" and "vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device" could lead one to ask if an e-Cigarette technically exists. Is this word "eCigarette" just a title that has been given to something that consists of a battery, atomizer and liquid that merely resembles smoking because of the plume it delivers when inhaled and exhaled and also contains nicotine?
The mere fact that the dictionaries class the action as vaping and not smoking throws up the argument that there possibly is no such thing as an electronic cigarette! The two items (a tobacco cigarette and a vaping device) are totally different. The only reason a vaping device can be classed as a tobacco alternative is because some contain nicotine, could this also be the case that a vaping device is not a tobacco alternative if it contains zero nicotine?
- When was the last time you bought 20 Benson & Hedges with a battery, clearomizer or charger included?
- Confused? I think we will leave this one for the lawyers!
- (note to lawyers: the above legal argument is the copyright of Not Normal Limited t/a CashBacco)
The sooner the world decides on what is allowable and what is not in regards to electronic smoking devices and the advertising of them and their associated products, we can all get on with enjoying a tobacco free life.
The mentions of Google, Yahoo, Bing, eBay and Amazon within this blog post appertain solely to the examples of advertising restrictions currently in place for electronic cigarettes. In no way are they an attack or effort to discredit Google, Yahoo, Bing, eBay or Amazon.