The electronic cigarette is a device that continues to grow in popularity among consumers in Romania, mainly as a result of advertising, although relevant legislation seeks to prohibit their sponsorship, advertising and promotion.
Directive 2014/40/EU, transposed in Romania by Law no. 201/2016 states that electronic cigarettes can develop into a gateway to nicotine addiction and ultimately to traditional tobacco consumption, and for this reason, it is necessary for Member States to adopt a restrictive approach to advertising electronic cigarettes and refill containers.
Therefore, as per the legal provisions in force, the advertising of electronic cigarettes and refill containers is prohibited:
a) in information society services, in the press and other printed publications, subject to certain exceptions;
b) on radio channels;
c) on means covered by the Audiovisual Law;
d) in theatres, cinemas or other types of projection rooms for visual material intended for the public;
e) on billboards, awnings, or any other display structures, regardless of their location or the payable fees.
On the other hand, Law no. 457/2004 provides that advertising of tobacco products is prohibited as follows:
a) in the press and in any other printed publications, except for those expressly provided for by law;
b) broadcast by public or private radio or television stations;
c)in theatres, cinemas or other types of projection of visual material intended for the public;
d) on billboards, awnings or any other display structures, regardless of their location or the fees payable, with the exception of those located in premises for the sale of tobacco products within business premises and premises specially designated for smoking;
e) through information society services;
f) by use of tobacco product trademarks on products other than tobacco products or on services not related to the trade in tobacco products, with the exception of those products necessary for smoking, such as ashtrays, lighters, matches and the like;
g) by selling or offering free of charge food products or toys manufactured with the obvious intention of giving the product and/or its packaging the appearance of a tobacco product;
h) by creating, marketing or offering free of charge games, including computer games, or toys which promote smoking or in which a tobacco product brand name is used;
i) using tobacco product brand names or messages promoting smoking, inscribed, or placed on the outside of any means of transportation and on the inside and outside of public transportation.
Given the above, it would appear that the regulation on the advertising of electronic cigarettes is less restrictive than that on the advertising of tobacco products, although, as also outlined above, Directive 2014/40/EU established that electronic cigarettes can develop into a gateway to nicotine addiction and ultimately to traditional tobacco consumption, as they mimic and normalize the action of smoking.
Regarding discount offers, free distribution offers, “two products for the price of one” offers or other similar offers, there is a prohibition in this respect for tobacco products, but not for electronic cigarettes.
Therefore, the prohibition of promotional activities for electronic cigarettes is not regulated by the applicable legislation, meaning that it may be argued that applying promotional offers for e-cigarettes could be possible by observing the legal provisions on the promotion and sale of market products.
Nevertheless, in accordance with Law no. 201/2016, failure to comply with the legal provisions on advertising and sponsorship for electronic cigarettes and refill containers represents a contravention and is sanctioned with a fine from RON 75,000 (approx. EUR 15,233) to RON 100,000 (approx. EUR 20,317).
- Directive 2014/40/EU on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products and repealing Directive 2001/37/EC;
- Law no. 201/2016 on the conditions for the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products and related products and amending Law No 349/2002 on preventing and combating the effects of the consumption of tobacco products;
- Law no. 504/2002 on audio-visual, as amended and supplemented;
- Law no. 457/2004 on advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products.