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that the offending ads should be withdrawn.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