Tobacco lobby steps up fight to keep ads

Opponents of a tobacco advertising ban are planning to use new research from France in a last-ditch effort to put their case to the Government.

Lobbyists met the Advertising Association last week and agreed to focus their arguments behind French studies which show youth smoking is rising, despite a national ban on tobacco ads known as the Loi Evin.

The Government has declared it will outlaw cigarette advertising and sponsorship in the UK, and has issued a White Paper giving the pro-advertising lobby a final chance to put forward their case and try to influence the scope of any ban. The pro-advertising lobby hopes to show that tobacco ad bans do not reduce cigarette consumption.

The pro-ad lobby claims a study from the French Health Education Committee discloses the decline in youth smoking stopped in 1991, when the Loi Evin was introduced, increasing from 30.5 per cent in 1991 to 34 per cent last year. Other figures from the French National Committee Against Smoking also support this argument.

Representatives from the media with advertising and sponsorship interests, including the Periodical Publishers’ Association, the Newspaper Society and the ITVA, and the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, which represents major manufacturers including Gallaher and Imperial, were at the meeting organised by the AA last week.

Bernie Eccleston, head of Formula One racing, which has strong links with the tobacco companies, was invited but unable to attend.

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