Govt outlaws 'brand stretching' for tobacco

The Government is to outlaw "brand stretching by tobacco companies to prevent them avoiding the looming ban on advertising their products.

The Department of Health has announced that a general ban on other goods that use logos designed to promote tobacco will take effect 18 months after press and poster ads end.

A Bill in Parliament is due to become law in October and ministers hope the ad ban will start at the end of this year.

In a consultation document on how the new system will work, the DoH said it had considered allowing "brand sharing to continue unregulated, but it had decided to outlaw the practice. "Bans are only really effective if they are comprehensive, ie. they cut off more or less all legal avenues for tobacco marketing and promotion. Otherwise spending shifts from one banned area of marketing to another legal area, it said.

There was evidence from countries which had outlawed direct advertising that showed tobacco companies used indirect methods to "circumvent the ban.

The Government said the key test would be if emblems and logos on other goods were aimed at promoting tobacco. These would have to be "made dissimilar to branding used by tobacco products within 18 months. This could cost the industry £2.1 million.

However, there would be an exemption if a name or feature were used for a non-tobacco product before 1 September and was not intended to promote a tobacco product.

The Government claimed the ad ban would cut smoking by 2.5 per cent in the long term and save 3,000 lives a year.

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