Government reportedly delays advertising ban: reaction from leaders of health & medical organisations

Sunday 17 June 2001

Action on Smokingand Health

Pressrelease: immediate Sunday 17th June 2001


Tobacco advertising ban:reaction from health and medical organisations on the reports that the government is to delay the ban on tobacco advertising


It has been reported (in the Sunday Times, 17 June 2001) that the government is to exclude the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill ­ a manifesto commitment from 1997 – from the Queen’s speech on Wednesday 20th June and further delay the introduction of a ban on tobacco advertising. Leaders of health and medical organisations expressed their dismay.


Professor Gordon McVie,Director General of Cancer Research Campaign said:

“We can hardly believe this, and if it’s true it’s an utter disgrace.  How can they be serious about tackling cancer when they’re so half-hearted about dealing with the most powerful commercial driver of smoking?  Cancer Research Campaign’s research shows that tobacco advertising is a key ingredient in persuading young people to smoke. It should be banned, and it should be banned without further delay.”


Sir Paul Nurse, Director General of Imperial Cancer Research Fund said:

“Tobacco is the most toxic of all drugs and equivalent in addictiveness to heroin or cocaine. If you think about the 35,000 lives that are lost every year to lung cancer alone, there is an obvious justification for an immediate and complete ban on tobacco advertising.  The government really shouldn’t dither a moment longer over this vital measure.”


Professor Sir George Alberti, President of the Royal College of Physicians said:

“This is a bitter blow for all UK doctors.  The children we fail to protect from tobacco advertising today will be our patients with cancer and heart disease tomorrow.  We’re astonished that the government should fail to implement legislation which will help them meet their own targets for reducing smoking-related disease.”


Professor John Moxham, Vice Dean of Guys, Kings and St Thomas’ School of Medicine said:

“This is intensely disappointing and many doctors will be deeply disillusioned.  The NHS already has a very tough job dealing with the consequences of smoking, and the last thing they need is aggressive companies spending millions of pounds promoting a product that drives people into the cancer, cardiac and respiratory wards.  At least ministers have until Wednesday to rethink, and we hope they recover their senses and make sure the tobacco advertising ban is back in the Queen’s speech.”


Clive Bates, Director of ASH said:

“We really can’t understand what they are playing at­ it’s such a straightforward and obvious measure that will save thousands of lives and cost them nothing.   In December, Ministers were telling us that banning tobacco advertising would save 3,000 lives per year, which would be a huge victory for health by any standards.  But it also means an 18 month delay will cost another four and half thousand unnecessary deaths.  The question the government needs to answer is: are they somehow indifferent to the thousands of lives involved, or are the figures wrong?  [1]


Contact: Clive Bates,ASH 077 6879 1237 (m) 020 8800 1336 (h)

Professor John Moxham 020 7703 4396 (h)

Jean King, Cancer Research Campaign ­ 020 8509 2493 (h)

Linda Cuthbertson, Royal College of Physicians ­ 079 4105 7494 (m)

Dawn Boyall, Imperial Cancer Research Fund ­ 078 7942 5267 (m)

[1]  Department of Health press release – 6 December 2000 ­quoting 3,000 lives per year as the benefit of banning tobacco advertising.