The UK tobacco industry has rejected a call by Health Secretary Alan Milburn to revive its offer of a voluntary advertising ban.
Milburn made his call as the Government’s tobacco ad ban, proposed for December 10, was thrown out by the High Court last week.
The minister said the tobacco industry would “stop at nothing” to “undermine the advertising ban, which would make our nation healthier” – and he expects it to honour its offer of a voluntary ban on poster and press advertising, made in April this year.
But John Carlisle, spokesman for the Tobacco Manufacturers Association (TMA), said the industry’s offer was ignored by the Government at the time in favour of legislation – so it had no intention of reviving it.
The row comes as British American Tobacco announces 550 job cuts, including 440 at its Rothmans factory in Spenymoor, which is to close. The factory is a few miles from Milburn’s Darlington constituency.
It also marks a new low in the industry’s relationship with the Government, putting a question mark over future voluntary agreements, if the Government’s appeal against the ruling fails.
Carlisle says: “We want to continue with the voluntary agreement. But the Government’s revival of an offer, which it totally ignored some months ago and the vitriol of the language they used after the court judgement doesn’t auger well for good relations.”
The legal victory has also prompted tobacco companies to rethink their “farewell” campaigns, some of which had made reference to the ban.
Gallaher has changed the endline of its final Hamlet cinema ad, from “Happiness will always be a cigar called Hamlet” to its traditional”Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet.”