Taking action on smoking and health
A tobacco company has failed in its attempt to overturn a ban on adverts that criticised a new health measure to stop young people smoking.
Following a complaint from ASH Scotland, ASH (UK) and Cancer Research UK last year, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that Japan Tobacco International had given misleading information in the ads about plain, standardised tobacco packaging.
The ASA said JTI was wrong to claim that the UK Government had “rejected” plain packaging when the measure was considered in 2008.
The watchdog also decided that the tobacco company was misleading in its view that there was “no credible evidence” at the time for plain packs, which are designed to deter young people from taking up smoking.
Following an appeal by JTI, the ASA has now upheld its original ruling that the assertion that the Government had “rejected” plain packs was misleading. The ASA said the claim suggested a degree of finality in the Government decision that was not the case.
The ruling was made with advice from an independent reviewer.
JTI has been ordered to change the wording of the ads if they are to appear again.
The ASA accepted JTI’s claim that there was a lack of evidence six years ago, but health campaigners point out there is now clear research to support plain packs.
ASH Scotland Chief Executive Sheila Duffy said:
“JTI’s advertising campaign didn’t go well. They had three adverts ruled as misleading and were so annoyed by this they employed a team of lawyers to pressurise the ASA and try to get the decisions overturned.
“That’s not gone well either. We’re glad the ASA has stuck to its ruling that the Government did not throw out plain packs in 2008. It was misleading of JTI to suggest that.
“The best that this tobacco company can do to undermine standard packs is to claim that in 2008 there wasn’t enough evidence to progress with the initiative. Well, it’s not 2008, it’s 2014 - and we absolutely have the evidence now.
“There have been nearly 40 published studies on standardised packaging since 2009 – nearly half of them from the UK.”
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Action on Smoking & Health (Scotland) (ASH Scotland) is a registered Scottish charity (SC 010412) and a company limited by guarantee(Scottish company no 141711). The registered office is 8 Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 2HB.
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