Tobacco companies are risking a further clampdown on their advertising
following moves by tobacco giants to breach a gentlemen’s agreement
prohibiting tobacco ads in the free press.
It has emerged that Rothmans has been advertising in free newspapers,
effectively breaching a voluntary ban.
The tobacco industry has a voluntary code restricting its advertising as
a public signal that it is responsible and sensitive about the issue.
Although there is no specific clause about free-sheets, cigarette ads in
free newspapers are considered unsuitable because they are delivered to
people’s homes unsolicited, and are therefore more easily accessible to
Now it has emerged that Rothmans ran an advertising campaign for its
Raffles brand in a number of free papers in the South of England over
Christmas and the New Year. Gallaher has denied reports that it
advertised in the free press in North Wales last autumn.
Although the tobacco companies have done nothing that can be considered
illegal, the decision could have wider implications for tobacco
advertising in general.
One legal adviser to the regional newspaper industry warned that ‘with
the tobacco companies fighting desperately to avoid further
restrictions, this could encourage a further clampdown on tobacco ads’.
Current legislation prevents tobacco advertisers from using TV and
poster sites near to schools. Self-imposed restrictions also exist in
the cinema and all youth media.