See the poster above? Where the handsome young black man snuggling up to the much older, but clearly still attractive, woman in a manner that suggests they are more than just friends? Yes it's been banned, but no, not because it's showing an interracial couple. And not because it's showing a couple with a huge age difference. It's been banned because it's suggesting interracial couples & older women are taboo.
Six people complained because it suggested that interracial love affair was taboo. Four complaints argued that it was also offensive on the grounds of age, as it implies that a relationship between a younger man and an older woman is socially unacceptable.
Nicofresh said, if "taboo" was defined as "social or religious custom prohibiting or restricting a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place or thing", there was little doubt that smoking had acquired taboo status in 21st century British society. They said the ad asserted that, thanks to Nicofresh, and the social permissibility of e-cigarettes, smokers could indulge in a variation of social smoking without feeling the sense of disapproval that smoking could result in. Therefore, they stood by the literal claim "No Tobacco, No Taboo".
Nicofresh stated that the complaints related to the visual representation used in the ad. They believed it could not be denied that relationships between two people of different races, or age groups, had, within living memory, been subject to social taboo status. They said, contrary to the complainants' understanding, the ad made the point that prejudice regarding relationships between two people of different race, or age, no longer existed, and that it was perfectly acceptable to depict such a relationship as there was "no taboo". They believed that consumers viewing the ad would at first think that the woman was smoking a traditional cigarette, but upon further investigation would see that she was in fact smoking an e-cigarette, and realise that nothing taboo was being depicted in the ad. Therefore, they asserted that the message at the heart of the ad was an entirely positive one, just as there was "no taboo" associated with relationships between people of different races and age groups, now there was "no taboo" associated with a variation of smoking.
The ASA found that consumers would believe that the ad was presenting a relationship between an older and younger individual, particularly an older woman and a younger man, and a couple of different races, as something that was unusual or socially unacceptable.
Therefore, the ASA upheld the complaints, ruling that it "was likely to cause serious or widespread offence on the grounds of race and age".
Ho-kay. That's settled then. There are no taboos these days except the taboo of offending people by suggesting there's been taboos. Wait, what? I'm confused.