Client: The Tobacco Manufacturers Association
PR Team: In-house and undisclosed PR agencies
Campaign: Against tobacco advertising ban
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
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.
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
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
The campaign will continue with the TMA running schemes with retailers
to discourage sales to schoolchildren.
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
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.
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.