Advertising watchdog to take no further action over Treasury duty free ad

The advertising watchdog is taking no further action over complaints about a Treasury advert stating that duty free shopping will return in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

An Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) spokeswoman said: “We carefully assessed the material in question and did not consider the post to fall within remit so will not be taking any further action.”

It further tweeted: “Following a number of complaints, we’ve assessed HM Treasury’s tweet about duty-free shopping. It was posted in non-paid for space (i.e. their own Twitter account) and features no direct encouragement for consumers to buy or do anything, so it falls outside our rules.”

Last week, the ASA said it had received “a number” of complaints about the ad, varying from concerns that it was inaccurate and misleading because it implied that a no-deal Brexit would change the fact that people travelling to the EU can currently buy alcohol duty free to concerns that it promoted tobacco and alcohol.

Others complained that it was “Conservative Party propaganda in the guise of impartial government information” or promoted the “illegal act” of a no-deal Brexit.

Treasury had earlier announced that under a no-deal Brexit, UK excise duty would no longer be due on alcohol and cigarettes bought when leaving Britain, meaning a bottle of wine bought at Heathrow by a departing passenger would be up to £2.23 cheaper.

It said people returning from the EU would have the choice of continuing to purchase and bring home unlimited amounts of cigarettes and alcohol with duty paid – as is the case now – or to buy limited amounts at duty-free shops in EU countries instead.

According to figures provided by the Treasury, someone buying two crates of beer would save £12.

The ad led MP Anna Soubry to tweet that the announcement was “propaganda” and “misleading”.

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