It is thought replacing cigarettes with electronic alternatives can help reduce
smoking-related deaths

Big tobacco has returned to British television after British American Tobacco aired its first advert in the country for more than 20 years.

Adverts for BAT's Vype e-cigarettes mention "vapers", the name given to people who smoke e-cigarettes, rather than "smokers", in what is described as a more responsible approach from the firm.

Despite the absence of tobacco, adverts for Vype, which is owned by BAT subsidary Nicoventures, are broadcast after the 9pm watershed to comply with regulations.

However, the company can sidestep those rules in online advertisements, so while the televsion ads use the strap line "pure satisfaction for vapers", online the tag line is: "pure satisfaction for smokers".

Britain banned television advertising of cigarettes in 1965. The ban was followed by a 1991 European Union directive outlawing the advertising of any tobacco products on television.

Since then, cigarette sales have declined while the popularity of e-cigarettes has risen dramatically.

According to charity Action on Smoking and Health, approximately 1.3 million Britains use e-cigarettes, most of whom are current or former tobacco smokers.

The alternative cigarettes contain an electronic heating element, which when the user draws in air vaporises a liquid and gives the effect of smoke.

Proponents see the product as a way of encouraging people to stop smoking, but critics say users can still become addicted to nicotine.