Imperial Tobacco UK shifts account to its own team

The world’s fourth largest international tobacco company has taken its UK trade PR account in-house, parting ways with long-term agency Publicasity.

Imperial Tobacco UK denied the move indicated that the company is scaling down its operations in the wake of the smoking ban. The firm’s trade communications manager Iain Watkins said he wanted to step up the focus on trade PR and he would be bringing in extra comms staff.

He said: ‘The importance of trade communications has grown because that is one of the few channels of communication we have left. We have increased resources behind the team and I believe we have the right staff in house to handle the work.’

Watkins would not say how many people are now employed by the company to handle trade communications. It is understood that Imperial Tobacco UK does not retain any other PR agencies.

The move comes in the week that the legal age to buy cigarettes increases to 18 years and just months after smoking was banned in public places in England.

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