EDITORIAL: Tobacco lobby group is entitled to a fair hearing

When tobacco manufacturers run national press ads telling the Government that its efforts to reduce smoking are muddle-headed, it’s like turkeys promoting innovative ways of cooking the Christmas roast.

When tobacco manufacturers run national press ads telling the

Government that its efforts to reduce smoking are muddle-headed, it’s

like turkeys promoting innovative ways of cooking the Christmas

roast.



It’s doubtful that an advertiser has ever before gone public on how

consumption of its product can be reduced. But cigarettes are not like

other products and the unique position of the Tobacco Manufacturers

Association makes it unlike any other advertiser.



Cast as the mouthpiece of the merchants of death, the TMA must overcome

a mountain of emotion and prejudice that makes it almost impossible for

the trade body to get a fair hearing.



Indeed, there will even be people in advertising and marketing who view

the TMA’s campaign, which urges the Government to cut tobacco tax to

deter more young people from smoking, as self-serving hypocrisy.



Actually, the TMA has a good case - but it will have to shout loudly to

have it heard above the hostile noise.



Tobacco smuggling from continental Europe, fuelled by the UK’s high

taxation levels, is making cigarettes affordable for many

youngsters.



The TMA claims that the blunt instrument approach - trying to cut

consumption by raising taxes - used by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, is

self-defeating.



That is debatable. But nobody in the industry should question the TMA’s

right to advertise its views, however repulsive some may find them.



Stop tobacco’s apologists and who will be next for the chop? Alcohol

manufacturers, toymakers and children’s confectionery producers,

perhaps?



If tobacco’s defensive line is breached, it won’t be long before

anti-advertising groups with a multitude of axes to grind start pouring

through the hole.



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