ASH fury at fag ’accessory’ ads

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has challenged the Advertising Standards Authority to crack down on advertising for Camel boots and Marlboro Classics clothing, following a recent acknowledgement by the government that this practice is ’indirect advertising for tobacco products’.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has challenged the Advertising

Standards Authority to crack down on advertising for Camel boots and

Marlboro Classics clothing, following a recent acknowledgement by the

government that this practice is ’indirect advertising for tobacco

products’.



ASH has formally complained about an ad for Camel boots in The Guardian,

which, it argues, is to some extent an ad for cigarettes and should be

covered by the Voluntary Agreement on Tobacco Advertising and Promotion,

formulated by the government and the tobacco industry.



ASH director Clive Bates said: ’Given that it is a cigarette ad, it

infringes the agreement in three areas: there is no health warning; it

features young people engaging in a ’healthy, wholesome lifestyle’; it

has not been vetted by the ASA prior to publication.’



The ASA has considered the complaint but says it will not be taking

action.



’The code applies to cigarettes only, not clothes, and we have had no

instruction from the government to change this position,’ said Caroline

Crawford, director of communications. ’If we believed one of these ads

was using a cigarette brand name to directly promote smoking, we would

take action.’



The issue puts the government in an awkward position, as it admitted in

a recent submission to the European Council of Health Ministers that

products using cigarette brands were indirectly promoting cigarettes,

and supported the Council’s decision to end such promotion within five

years. The Department of Health was not available for comment.



ASH said it believed no change in the code was necessary and that this

’brand-stretching’ should fall under existing restrictions.



Advertising for a diverse range of cigarette-branded products has

increased over the past decade. It is regarded as a clever way of brand

building in a climate hostile to straightforward tobacco ads.



John Carlisle, executive director at the Tobacco Manufacturers’

Association, said: ’If there is a genuine complaint, it will be

investigated. What we don’t need is ASH muddying the waters.’



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