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Tuesday, July 6, 1999 Published at 00:27 GMT 01:27 UK


Keeping tabs on tobacco industry

The centre will monitor attempts to entice young smokers

An anti-tobacco research surveillance centre is to be set up by a leading cancer charity.

The Cancer Research Campaign's Centre for Tobacco Control Research, based at the University of Strathclyde, will monitor the activities of the tobacco industry.

[ image: Professor Gordon McVie wants tobacco manufucturers to lose their licences]
Professor Gordon McVie wants tobacco manufucturers to lose their licences
A priority will be to expose any attempt to entice young people to take up smoking.

The centre will recruit smokers from across the UK to provide "intelligence" on the tobacco industry following the government's ban on cigarette advertising, due to come into force in December.

CRC director-general Professor Gordon McVie says: "Adopting these James Bond-style tactics will allow us to gather all the evidence we need to show that the tobacco industry's 'licence to kill' should be permanently revoked."

The news was welcomed by Dr Ian Gibson MP, chair of the All-Party Committee on Cancer. "It is another nail in the coffin for an industry which affects the lives of 70% of lone parents and their children who could use this 'ciggie money' to better effect," he said.

Keeping consumers hooked

Researchers believe the advertising ban will force the tobacco industry to divert its marketing energies into other forms of promotion to recruit smokers and keep existing consumers hooked.

The centre will take a lead role in monitoring these changes and seeing if the tobacco industry complies with the ban.

Activities will carry out surveys among youngsters aged 11, 13 and 15 over the next five years and beyond on their attitudes to smoking.

This will help determine whether the tobacco products advertising ban is protecting youngsters from pressure to take up cigarettes or whether they are being targeted in new ways such as through the Internet.

Lead researcher Professor Gerard Hastings said: "There are basically three things which affect how much we as a population smoke.

"There are the policies made by government, the marketing activities of the tobacco industry and the needs and views of individual smokers.

"This research facility will house projects investigating all three aspects. The opportunities for sharing ideas and findings as a team, and of fostering UK-wide and international collaborations are unique."

Government welcome

Frank Dobson, the Health Secretary, has welcomed the launch of the centre.

He said: "Year after year, the tobacco industry has poured millions into sophisticated advertising and marketing campaigns to persuade people to take up and continue smoking.

"We are banning tobacco advertising from 10th December this year, so it's a fair bet that the industry is, even as we speak, doing everything it can to find new ways of marketing its products.

"They need new ways to recruit 120,000 new smokers each year, to make up for the 120,000 of their customers that they kill every year.

"This new centre will help keep tabs on what they're up to, as well as providing valuable advice on how to help people quit smoking. So it will be a massive help in several ways."

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