ICM poll increases pressure for banning ads

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.