An Imperial Tobacco advertisement has been said to be “harmful and irresponsible” in the latest ruling against the tobacco industry by the Advertising Standards Authority today (Wednesday).
This latest ruling means that Imperial’s advert for a mobile phone app – Smoke Spots – cannot appear again in its current form. Imperial has been told to ensure future advertising does not condone or encourage smoking.
The ASA considered that the campaign “presented smoking in a positive light,” and that the overall impression of the ads was that they “normalised and condoned smoking which was an unsafe practice.”
To coincide with this latest ruling Cancer Research UK is launching the first campaign of its kind in the UK to hold the tobacco industry to account for its actions and reinforce the message that its product kills half of all long term smokers.
The tobacco industry has a record from around the world of targeting children and young people with its marketing. It advertises and sells cigarettes at events attended by children, and it has also sponsored schools which then carry the logo of the tobacco company on school uniforms. In Bogota, Columbia, tobacco industry representatives have offered cigarettes to one in five young people.
Cancer Research UK is urging young people to use social media to protest against tobacco industry practices and the vast ‘dirty’ profits they make.
Nicola Adams, Olympic gold medal boxer, and other young people feature in the campaign film telling the tobacco industry that they are not going to be the puppets of an industry which makes more profit than McDonalds, Coca Cola and Microsoft combined.
People can take action by sharing the video on social media and then posting a protest picture of themselves giving the billion-pound tobacco industry two fingers, telling it to “smoke this” and including #smokethis.
Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, said: “This latest ASA ruling reinforces the message that smoking is harmful and that the tobacco industry cannot be allowed to try to convince us – and especially young people – that tobacco is a normal, safe product. It’s highly addictive and lethal. The tobacco industry is unique in the modern corporate world. It’s the only business that knowingly sells a product which will kill half of its consumers.
“Most smokers start before they’re 18, and begin an addiction that will kill half of them if they become long-term smokers. We need a change in how we all think about and treat the tobacco ‘dealers’. We want more people, especially the younger generation, to understand the industry and to tell it where to go.
“We co-created this campaign with young people who were angry when they heard about the vast profits the industry makes and how they need to recruit 100,000 of them and their peers just to keep the money rolling in. The ‘#smokethis’ sentiment we’re encouraging them to send back is a strong one, but it’s the right message to send to the tobacco industry after the decades of making billions of pounds from death and disease.”
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