Government rebuffs tobacco ad standards

The UK Government has poured cold water on voluntary standards for tobacco advertising proposals, released by tobacco manufacturers this week.

The standards, drawn up by international companies including British American Tobacco (BAT), Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco, are designed to allow the tobacco companies to make judgements on where ads can be placed to avoid encouraging children to smoke.

A spokesman for the Department of Health says the move will not force the Government to rethink its stance on UK tobacco advertising.

He says: “The Government used to have a voluntary agreement with tobacco manufacturers that has lapsed and it’s unlikely to agree to standards when it has a manifesto commitment to banning tobacco advertising.”

The standards are due to be introduced in December 2002.

BAT chairman Martin Broughton says: “BAT welcomes constructive dialogue with governments and other interested parties to help ensure compliance with these standards and to build on them where appropriate.”

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) public affairs manager John Connolly describes the standards as a “standard lobbying technique”, to avoid legislation. He says: “There’s nothing new in the proposals. They are putting forward what is already the standard in the UK.”

Among the proposals, manufacturers say they will not run ads suggesting that smoking makes you more successful sexually or athletic. They will also not run ads in publications unless at least 75 per cent of the readers are adults, or place ads on billboards that are within 100 metres of a school.

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