Govt admits ad ban concern

The Government has quietly admitted it does not know what impact a ban on tobacco advertising would have on smoking levels.

The Government has quietly admitted it does not know what impact a

ban on tobacco advertising would have on smoking levels.



The admission by Baroness Jay, the health minister, cast a shadow over

the Government’s launch of an offensive on the tobacco sector at a

summit this week.



Answering a written question in the House of Lords, Jay insisted ad bans

in other countries had cut smoking, but she admitted: ’It will not be

possible to identify the influence of a ban alone in the package of

measures which will be employed here.’



The Advertising Association said ministers were refusing to justify a

ban by hiding behind their decision to bring in a wide-ranging

anti-smoking package.



Andrew Brown, the AA director-general, said: ’Before taking such

Draconian action against a legal product, we should know whether the

action is proportionate to the likely effect.’



Brown, who attended Monday’s London summit, criticised the event as

’more a triumphalist rally’ and ’emotional rant’ by the anti-smoking

lobby than a conference. He said there was no discussion of the role of

advertising, merely an assumption that ads recruited a new generation of

smokers to replace those who died. ’It was a bit depressing,’ he

said.



The signals from ministers suggested they would go further than the

tobacco ad ban promised in Labour’s manifesto, Brown said, and were

likely to include direct marketing (Campaign, 27 June). ’They are now

talking about advertising, sponsorship and promotion,’ he said. ’They

want to forbid any form of contact between the tobacco companies and

their customers.



The summit was all about how rather than whether to take action.’



Tessa Jowell, the public health minister, told the summit the Government

wanted to include in the ban ’every form of tobacco promotion that it is

practical to tackle in this way’. She would not accept a voluntary

agreement with the tobacco industry. Jowell said: ’We are trying to put

together measures which will fundamentally change the position of

tobacco in the public consciousness.’



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