NEWS: Philip Morris faces criticism from ASA after 20 complaints

Philip Morris will have to confront criticism from the Advertising Standards Authority over its controversial campaign which plays down the health risks associated with passive smoking.

Philip Morris will have to confront criticism from the Advertising

Standards Authority over its controversial campaign which plays down the

health risks associated with passive smoking.



The ASA has received 20 complaints about the pan-European press campaign

by BST-BDDP, which claims that the danger from inhaling other people’s

smoke is less than that from eating a biscuit a day, or drinking either

milk or chlorinated water.



Although the ASA’s ruling council is unlikely to make a final decision

until September, a draft proposed by officials is understood to say that

some of the tobacco giant’s claims were open to misunderstanding and

that the offending ads should be withdrawn.



But the draft ruling will not satisfy anti-smoking groups because Philip

Morris has already said the campaign is drawing to a close. ‘This is too

little, too late,’ one complainant said.



The ASA received formal complaints from a wide range of lobby groups,

including Ash (the Campaign for Freedom from Tobacco), as well as 15

members of the public.



Pamela Furness, chief executive of Ash, told the ASA the ads were

‘grossly misleading’ and the data used ‘very selective’.



Caroline Crawford, the ASA’s communications director, said the matter

was ‘still under investigation’. She stressed that official

recommendations were not always approved by the council.



The campaign has run into controversy on the Continent. In France it was

banned by a judge who granted an injunction to the National Biscuit

Association. In Belgium, Philip Morris won an appeal against a similar

ruling.



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