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Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Tobacco firms 'plan new tactics'
Smoker lighting up
A ban on smoking advertising has been proposed
The tobacco industry has been accused of targeting homes in an attempt to circumvent an advertising ban.

Professor Gerard Hastings, of Cancer Research UK, said the tobacco industry plans to lobby government to exempt direct mail from any new legislation.

Direct mail, Cancer Research UK said, would be an important tool for the tobacco industry in helping it build relationships with existing smokers.

A bill banning adverts for tobacco products in magazines, newspapers, on the internet and on billboards is currently going through the House of Commons.


Most smokers start before the age of 18 and people who start young smoke for an average of 25 years

Prof Gerrard Hastings

A ban is likely to come into effect by the end of the year.

Prof Hastings, and the Centre for Tobacco Control Research at the University of Strathclyde, said the industry plans to change its marketing tactics.

He said: "Big tobacco always knew that the advertising ban would come eventually and they have been channelling all their efforts into trying to get round it.

"And it's vital that they don't succeed.

"Their sophisticated marketing techniques include personally targeted mailings, carefully designed to counteract tobacco tax increases.

"Most smokers start before the age of 18 and people who start young smoke for an average of 25 years.

"This means that each new smoker is worth around 36,000 to the tobacco industry. With these kinds of profits to be made they simply can't afford to lose them."

Cigarettes
The industry has argued against new curbs

Technological advances in database management have greatly improved the efficiency and cost effectiveness of direct marketing, said Prof Hastings.

The unit has compiled a report on young people's exposure to and awareness of tobacco marketing communications.

Health charities are urging the UK Government to press ahead with the advertising ban.

However, industry body the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association (TMA) has consistently argued that such a ban would not work.

Commercial activity

It said: "UK tobacco companies should be allowed to communicate with adult smokers who have signified their wish to receive information.

"The TMA is therefore asking the Government not to ban communication directly with their adult customers.

"The companies only contact smokers over the age of 18 who have requested that information be sent to them."

The TMA said that restricting companies' ability to maintain market share by "curbing their ability" to communicate with smokers would make consumers more likely to purchase cheap, imported and smuggled products.

It said maintaining contact with customers was "a necessary part of any commercial activity".

"It is important that the measures do not infringe the fundamental human rights of adults to make personal choices and receive information," it added.

See also:

22 Aug 02 | Scotland
22 Aug 02 | Health
16 Mar 02 | Scotland
15 Mar 02 | Health
26 Jun 01 | Scotland
26 Apr 01 | Americas
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