Advertising Standards Authority

I decided to compain to the ASA the other day. I’d seen an advert for nicotine patches, saying that nicotine was  ‘theraputic’. Made me laugh, and vaguely angry. I do wish I wasn’t addicted to nicotine… maybe addicted is a little strong. Wish I didn’t have a nicotine habit.

Anyway; here’s the response.

Dear Mr Lindley

Re: Your complaint about NiQuitin advertising

Thank you for your recent complaint about a TV ad for this product.

I understand you object to the term ‘therapeutic nicotine’ because Wikipedia says therapeutic means the attempted remediation of a health problem, which you feel does not apply.  We have reviewed the ad but on this occasion, we will not be taking further action.

When assessing complaints about TV ads, we have to consider how viewers are likely to interpret the claims.  In this case we think that viewers are likely to understand that nicotine is highly addictive and is the element within cigarettes that makes giving up smoking very difficult.   While your definition of therapeutic may be correct, we note that it also has the meaning of being “soothing” or “conducive to well-being”.

We have reviewed the ad and note it does not claim to cure nicotine addiction but rather by providing a controlled supply of nicotine, the product is able to calm the symptoms of withdrawal and so allow the person to concentrate on something other than their craving for cigarette.  On this basis, because we think that people are likely to understand that the claims are made in the context of an ad for an anti-smoking product, we don’t think that this ad is likely to harm consumers or mislead them to their detriment.

I am sorry that we are unable to investigate your complaint further, but thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Yours sincerely,

Karen Harms

Complaints Executive