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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK
Tobacco firms plan advertising limits
Man smoking
Tobacco firms are trying to forestall tighter WHO curbs
The world's three biggest tobacco firms have attempted to wrong-foot the World Health Organisation by volunteering their own advertising curbs, a newspaper has said.

Japan Tobacco has confirmed an agreement with fellow cigarette makers Philip Morris from the US and UK-based British American Tobacco to stop TV and radio adverts altogether.

The companies plan to have the standards in place by the end of next year, Japan Tobacco said.

Four smaller rivals - Compania Industrial de Tabacos of Bolivia, Papastratos of Greece, the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly and CL Group of Peru - are also said included in the alliance.

Efforts to sign up other members of the smoking industry will continue, Japan Tobacco said.

The companies have promised to cease marketing their products directly at young people, a move which would end the hiring of celebrities to endorse brands.

Pre-empting the WHO

The reported move by the three giants, which together account for more than two fifths of world tobacco sales, comes as the WHO continues to negotiate an international framework for the tobacco industry.

If the WHO treaty is completed and ratified, it is likely to include enforceable controls on tobacco advertising.

But the industry agreement may not see off WHO action, with organisation director general Gro Harlem Brundtland saying that she hoped to reach an agreement on the so-called "Framework Convention on Tobacco Control" by mid-2003.

Speaking at a conference in Brunei, she said cigarette smoking posed a "tremendous threat" to the Asia-Pacific region, which she said accounts for one quarter of all global smoking-related deaths each year.

New laws

The self-imposed limits are less severe than the regulations many countries have already introduced.

In Thailand, for instance, all cigarette advertising is already banned.

But the companies said they will work to have their standards incorporated in law where they are more stringent than existing controls.

See also:

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