Tobacco Ad Bill will save lives, but Flat-Earth Tories ignore evidence & press for more death & disease

Monday 22 January 2001


22 January 2001: immediate


Tobaccoad bill will save thousands of lives – but flat-earth Tories ignore theevidence and press for more death and disease

The Conservative party appears to bereverting to its bad old pro-tobacco anti-health posture and is opposing theGovernment’s plan to ban tobacco advertising. Despite receiving a <ahref=”http:”” html=”” advspo=”” foxadvertising.html”=””><spanstyle=’text-decoration:none;’>bundle of documentation[1] from ASH detailing the evidence base and evidence in the Government’sregulatory impact assessment, William Hague, Liam Fox and Caroline Spelman areclaiming there is insufficient evidence to justify a ban.   Clive Bates, Director of ASH, said:


“TheTories’ flat-earth claim that there is insufficient evidence to justify theadvertising ban just doesn’t stand up – they either haven’t read the evidenceor are just using it as an excuse to cause delays and obstacles inParliament.  Department of Healtheconomists, the US Surgeon General, the World Bank, the World HealthOrganisation and countless academic reviews all support the argument that tobaccoadvertising increases tobacco consumption. We made a selection of evidence available to the Conservatives beforeChristmas, but they never replied and appear to have ignored it.


“Evenon the most cautious estimate used by the government, banning tobaccoadvertising would reduce consumption by two and a half percent.  Even this small amount would reduce thedeath toll associated with tobacco by 3,000 lives per year – as many as die onBritain’s roads.


“Onthis basis, each day of delay in introducing the ban means another eight peoplewill be killed by tobacco.  Party-politicalposturing and manoeuvring has a high price in human life if it leads to delays -and we think Hague and Fox ought to be responsible and read the evidence properlybefore they start holding things up.


ASH willbe pressing the case for [2]:

  • A comprehensive ban – anysignificant exemptions or partial coverage will allow the tobacco companies toshift ad budgets from banned to unbanned forms of promotion.  There are moves to exempt direct mail, butthis would fatally weaken the Bill.
  • No special treatment for Formula One- marketing and sponsorship experts believe that there are abundant replacementsponsors to allow Formula One to phase out tobacco sponsorship by 2003.  Even F1’s governing body said that tobaccosponsorship could be phased out by 2002 if necessary.
  • Tough language on ‘brand stretching’- the advertising of tobacco brands by using non-tobacco products.   This could be a giant loophole if poorlydefined.
  • Broadening the scope of the Bill tointroduce a Tobacco Regulatory Authority – as recommended by the Commons HealthSelect Committee in its <ahref=”http:”” pa=”” cm199900=”” cmselect=”” cmhealth=”” 27=”” 2716.htm#a17″=””><spanstyle=’text-decoration:none;’>June 2000 report


[1] Letter to Dr Liam Fox <ahref=”http:”” html=”” advspo=”” foxadvertising.html”=””><spanstyle=’text-decoration:none;’>

[2] See briefing and related materials at: <ahref=”http:”” ?advertising”=””>


Contacts:  Clive Bates, ASH, 020 7739 5902(office) 077 6879 1237 (mobile)