Cigarette firm bypasses legislation and targets UK tourists in Spain

Tobacco company Gallaher, which is prevented from advertising in the UK, is targeting British holidaymakers on the Costa del Sol with press ads in a national tabloid newspaper.

The Spanish edition of The Sun has been carrying full-page advertising for Gallaher’s budget Mayfair brand this month. The ads, created by Gallaher’s UK ad agency cdp-travissully, are tailored to the relaxed state of mind of the UK holidaymaker. Media is bought by Walker Media.

Outdoor, magazine and press tobacco advertising was banned in the UK from February 14 this year in accordance with the Tobacco Advertising and Promotions Act. European Union legislation banning tobacco advertising comes into force in September 2004.

The Sun’s overseas circulation is 81,560 for June (Audit Bureau of Circulations), but owner News International does not break down the figures for individual countries. However, a spokeswoman says that Spain accounts for a large part of the overseas circulation. Tour operators sold 6.7 million package holidays to Spain in 2001, according to the Association of British Travel Agents.

Express Newspapers says that it is not carrying tobacco advertising in any overseas copies of the Daily Express or Daily Star.

Tobacco firms have looked to circumvent the advertising ban by creating humorous viral campaigns abroad, which spread via the Web. Formula One sponsorship by tobacco companies will be banned in Europe by 2005, but the sport’s governing body the FIA is already looking to run races in countries outside the EU.

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