Smoking cessation brand Nicorette has launched a sweeping attack on electronic cigarettes in a new ad campaign, as new figures reveal the market for Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) declined for the first time.

The new outdoor push for its Quick Mist product questions the effectiveness of e-cigs in helping people give up smoking. Its strapline is: “Don’t vape. Quit for good.”

According to the latest figures from IRI, while Nicorette sales grew 4.5% to £58m for the year to 12 July, sales of NRT products fell by 0.9% in the same period. By contrast, sales of electronic cigarettes were flying at the time, up 66.4%.

A Nicorette spokeswoman told The Grocer there was a “key difference” between nicotine replacement therapy products and e-cigarettes because NRTs delivered “consistent and appropriate levels of nicotine to give smokers the best chance of replacing tobacco smoking with the aim of quitting.”

“It is important to note that no electronic cigarette product is currently licensed as a medicinal stop smoking aid in the UK,” she said. “At present there is therefore limited evidence available to support the safety, efficacy and quality of the electronic cigarettes currently on the market.”

The ad has angered e-cig makers. Trade body ECITA blasted it as “unsubstantiated and misleading,” while another industry insider claimed the campaign made it “abundantly clear” Nicorette was concerned about the impact of e-cigarettes on sales.

IRI head of strategic insight Martin Wood agreed the campaign appeared to seek to protect share and “make clear these are distinct markets.”