Cancer Research wins cigarette ad ban

smoking

The Cancer Research charity launched a complaint against a campaign advert for the tobacco industry - which had objected to plain cigarette packaging on the grounds that it would make life easier for smugglers.

The Advertising Standards Agency responded by banning the advert. But why?
%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

Misleading

The advert itself was run in two national newspapers by cigarette company Gallagher, attacking the idea of plain packaging. The adverts said: "Why make it easier for criminals to make a packet? In the current economic climate, the black market in tobacco is booming. Standardising packs will make them easier to fake and cost taxpayers millions more than the £3 billion lost in unpaid duty last year."

Cancer Research said that the advert was misleading on two points. First the claim that the black market was booming was misleading. It quoted HMRC which reported in 2011 that black market trading in cigarettes had fallen significantly over the previous decade.

Gallagher responded that it was measuring growth over the previous 30 years, and that the scale of the black market trade in cigarettes meant that the statement stood up to scrutiny.

The ASA disagreed, and said the statement was misleading. It said: "We acknowledged that the [HMRC] report suggested that the state of the tobacco illicit market was presently a major problem which had a considerable financial impact on the UK. However, we also noted that the report stated that "the tobacco illicit market had been reduced significantly over the last decade".

Exaggerated

In its second point, Cancer Research said that the claim of £3 billion lost in unpaid duty had been exaggerated - as it was the upper end of an estimate by HMRC - and combined the highest estimate for the sums lost through illegal cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco.

Gallagher responded by saying the figure came from an HMRC source, and had been quoted by a number of public officials without qualification.

The ASA agreed with the charity. It said that the use of the statistic (and a picture of a packet of cigarettes) implied the £3 billion had been lost through the sale of illegal cigarettes alone. It also noted an enormous difference between the higher and lower estimates given by the HMRC report: combining the two lower estimates would have given a figure of £1.2 billion.

It said: "We therefore concluded that, in the absence of qualifying text, providing additional information about the methods used to calculate the "£3 billion" figure, or any information indicating that it was an upper estimate relating to all tobacco products, the figure was likely to mislead." It ruled that the adverts must not appear in their current form again.

What does it mean?

The adverts were intended to build public support for keeping branded cigarette packets. Withdrawing them means the company will not be able to do so through the use of these particular tactics.

This is the second time Gallagher's adverts have been slapped down by ASA. The first set were complained about by Ash, Ash Scotland and Cancer Research, after they claimed the government had abandoned a policy of plain packaging in 2008 - when it had actually decided to keep it under review.

There is a chance, therefore, that this is part of a broader strategy by anti-cancer and anti-smoking charities, who are passionate supporters of a plain packaging law.

8 PHOTOS
Top advertising icons that are no more
See Gallery
Cancer Research wins cigarette ad ban

The lone cowboy quadrupled sales of Philip Morris' Marlboro cigarettes when he first appeared in the 1950s. Despite increasing evidence from mid-century scientists of health risks associated with smoking, Marlboro Man was influential in persuading the public to continue to light up.

Remember the little mascots for Robertson's jam? People sent away in their millions to the jam makers for golly brooches and other golly-related memorabilia. When Golly retired in 2002, the official reason was that children had lost interest in him. But many suspected the forces of political correctness were at play. Over 20m gollies were sent out by Robertson's in their heyday. Many have become valued collectors' items.

A boy and girl in ragged clothes catch the smell of Bisto gravy on the breeze and sigh longingly "Ahhh... Bisto." The advert, drawn by cartoonist Wilf Owen, first appeared in 1919. The gambit aimed to capture an 'Oliver Twist' quality, appealing to the 'urchin' segment of the working class market.

The yellow talking cartoon bird made his calls to advertise Post Office Telecommunications (now BT) perched on telephone wires. His catchphrase was "Make someone happy with a phone call". Bernard Cribbens provided the voice.

Beatrice Bellman was a popular character from a series of TV adverts by British Telecom, famously played by Maureen Lipman. She was a stereotypical Jewish mother and grandmother, with a heart of gold. Her adventures mostly involved nagging her long-suffering family over the phone. The name Beattie was a play on 'BT', as British Telecom later became known.

Any BP ad showing green fields and clean seas. Nowadays inappropriate for reasons too obvious to outline here.

Toilet paper makers Andrex have chosen to digitise their iconic puppy for the first time since the dog hit our screens in 1972. The series of more than 120 adverts featuring a live puppy made even something as utilitarian as toilet paper appear cute - no mean feat.

A blue floating shost-like creature with a long pointed nose, he featured in an educational animation programme created by Nick Spargo for British Gas in 1975. Willo's job was to extol the virtues of gas. Actor Kenneth Williams provided the voice. Willo later went on to great success in his own TV series, before retiring into obscurity.

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

More stories
Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS