The Government’s proposed regulations banning advertising and
sponsorship of tobacco products would severely curtail their
manufacturers’ PR activities.
As PR Week went to press on Wednesday a Department of Health
spokesperson said that companies will not be able to host receptions,
fund community projects, put up web sites, organise photocalls or send
out press releases if these activities are designed to promote
cigarettes to consumers.
Lobbying of government, financial PR and communication with relevant
trades, such as newsagents, are unlikely to be affected.
A key section of the proposed legislation defines advertising as ’any
form of commercial communication with the aim or the direct or indirect
effect of promoting a tobacco product’.
The industry itself is unclear as to the extent to which the ban will
affect their ability to use PR. They will have a chance to put their
arguments and ask for more clarity during the two-month consultation
process on the draft tobacco regulations, which began last week.
Gallaher corporate affairs manager Jeff Jeffery said: ’All of our
methods of communicating to our consumers are being taken away and that
includes PR.’ Gallaher produces Silk Cut and Benson and Hedges.
At Imperial Tobacco, which makes Lambert and Butler and Embassy, general
manager, external affairs Paul Sadler said he believed the Government
was attempting to stop all promotional and marketing activity.
’If you mean by PR that it would have the aim of promoting a product,
then that is affected,’ he said.
Philip Morris, which sells the Marlboro brand in the UK, retains
Burson-Marsteller. Gallaher retains Karen Earl for PR for sponsored
events. Imperial retains Brunswick for financial PR and other agencies
on an ad-hoc basis, including James Reed PR.