CAMPAIGNS: TMA’s bid to stub out smoking ban - Lobbying

Client: The Tobacco Manufacturers Association

Client: The Tobacco Manufacturers Association



PR Team: In-house and undisclosed PR agencies



Campaign: Against tobacco advertising ban



Timescale: Ongoing



Budget: Undisclosed



A tobacco advertising and sponsorship ban was one of the new

Government’s election manifesto pledges which they are about to fulfil.

The objective is to cut the number of smoking-related illnesses and

deaths and the cost to the health service. It is also a bid to combat

the spiralling statistics of under-age smoking.



The next step is the publication of a White Paper on smoking later this

year as well as a draft bill banning tobacco advertising.



Cigarette manufacturers under the umbrella of their trade association

the Tobacco Manufacturers Association (TMA) want to make sure that any

new legislation does not include a ban on advertising and

sponsorship.



Objectives



To persuade MPs that advertising does not encourage children to smoke;

that a ban will not reduce cigarette consumption; and that statutory

regulation in this area will not be effective.



Tactics



The TMA has been lobbying public health minister Tessa Jowell for

several months to ensure that the industry viewpoint is heard. As soon

as the announcement of the proposed legislation was made in May, the TMA

sent an eight-minute video to all MPs to persuade them that an

advertising ban would not achieve the Government’s aims.



The video, fronted by advertising expert Winston Fletcher and economist

and statistician Jo Yasin, explained that in other parts of the world

where tobacco advertising has been banned the end results the Government

are seeking have not been achieved. TMA spokesman John Carlisle says:

’We hope to influence MPs because we feel that Ms Jowell is working

under a misapprehension. Her objective to discourage underage smoking,

which we support, will not be dramatically affected by an advertising

ban.’



Carlisle says free and frank discussions have been taking place but that

Jowell and her colleagues are steadfastly considering just the

anti-smoking side of the whole issue. So much so that no tobacco

industry representatives or pro-smoking commentators were invited to put

their case at a government sponsored Anti-Tobacco Summit held on 15

July.



The campaign will continue with the TMA running schemes with retailers

to discourage sales to schoolchildren.



Results



Some MPs have requested further information from the TMA, but the

response had been at best muted. Press coverage following the

Anti-Smoking summit was very pro-ban. The proposal to make it illegal

for under-18s to smoke coincided with the announcement that the age of

consent for homosexuals is to be lowered to 16. The irony of being able

to have homosexual sex, but not smoke, was not lost on the

cartoonists.



There was substantial discussion of the impact of an advertising ban on

sports sponsorship, but less analysis of the likely effects on cigarette

consumption and, in particular, under-age smoking.



Verdict



The TMA is trying to push open a securely bolted door. The size of the

Labour majority and the fact that a tobacco advertising ban has wide

public support means the ban will more than likely go ahead. The TMA may

win over a few MPs with their facts and figures, but they are unlikely

to throw the bandwagon off course.



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