Tobacco giants lobby for ‘healthy’ cigarette ads

Health groups are fuming over attempts to get so-called “safer cigarettes” exempted from the proposed ban on cigarette advertising, going through Parliament at the moment.

Tobacco companies are lobbying the Government to allow advertising for cigarettes that deliver lower levels of toxins on the grounds that they have to be able to advertise such products if they are to convince smokers to switch from high-risk brands.

Tobacco manufacturers have been exploring ways to make cigarettes less harmful for decades by, for instance, adding ingredients to counteract toxins, redesigning cigarettes so the tobacco does not burn and genetically modifying tobacco plants to reduce toxins.

Tobacco Manufacturers Association chief executive Tim Lord says: “We have tried to suggest amendments to legislation going through the House.” However, the Government has been unresponsive, and Lord says the group will be lobbying opposition MPs to introduce amendments during the third reading later this month.

But Clive Bates, of health lobby group Action for Smoking and Health (ASH), says: “They can’t prove the claims they are making for these products. The danger of allowing the advertising of them is that people will think they are safe to smoke. The Government must legislate for full disclosure of all the dangers of smoking.”

In the US, Vector has launched Omni (which has added ingredients to reduce toxic smoke), and is about to launch Quest (which uses reduced nicotine GM tobacco). A number of cigarette companies are understood to be considering introducing similar brands in the UK.

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