The pressure on the Government to outlaw tobacco advertising
increased this week when an opinion poll suggested its failure to impose
a ban had persuaded people it was not dangerous to smoke.
The survey by the pollsters ICM for the anti-smoking group ASH found
that the majority of smokers (54 per cent) and non-smokers (61 per cent)
felt the delay in banning tobacco advertising showed that ministers were
not particularly concerned about the number of people smoking.
Almost half of smokers (46 per cent) and 40 per cent of the public think
that smok-ing cannot be "really dangerous", or the Government would not
let cigarettes be advertised.
Four in ten adults strongly agree that the tobacco industry cannot be
trusted to regulate its own advertising through the existing voluntary
agreement, with a further 20 per cent tending to agree with this
The Government is backing a Private Member's Bill introduced to the
House of Lords by a Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Clement-Jones. Although
it is identical to a Government Bill scuppered when Tony Blair called
the general election in June, the measure is believed to have only a
"50-50 chance" of becoming law due to lack of Parliamentary time.
John Connolly, the public affairs manager for ASH, said: "This poll
shows that the Government's actions, or lack of them, have an effect on
how the public, especially smokers, perceive these risks." He added that
the results of the poll would come as a "nasty shock" to ministers.