Tobacco lobby hatches plot to neuter ad ban in Lords

Members of the House of Lords are calling for major exemptions to the proposed ban on tobacco advertising to allow the direct marketing of tobacco to continue.

The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill, which is currently being debated in the Lords, intends to ban all tobacco advertising except point of sale. But the tobacco industry is determined to retain its direct marketing work, on which it spends up to &£50m a year in the UK.

Critics say that if exemptions are accepted they would drive a coach and horses through the intentions of the Bill.

Action on Smoking and Health project manager for public affairs John Connolly says: “If you leave direct marketing open, all resources will go in that direction.”

Proposed amendments put forward by four members following a second reading last week allow companies to send information automatically to smokers.

Under the present Bill – a Labour manifesto pledge – manufacturers would be obliged to ask smokers to request a mailing every time it is sent out.

The amendments will be discussed by members of the Lords in committee. If they approve, the amendments will go back to the House of Commons to be considered. No dates have been set.

Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association director of public affairs John Carlisle says retaining direct marketing is “something tobacco manufacturers feel strongly about”.

However, he agreed children could see mailings. “We can’t guarantee anything. All we can do is put in place strict regulations,” he says.

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