Cancer Research UK has won a second victory in as many months against Gallaher, which markets brands including Benson & Hedges, Camel and Silk Cut, after the ad watchdog banned the tobacco giant's campaign attacking proposals for plain cigarette packaging.
Gallaher ran two ads in UK national newspapers claiming that government moves to potentially introduce plain, standardised packaging will be a boon for criminals trading in fake cigarettes.
|Gallaher ad attacking plain cigarette packs|
"What make it easier for criminals to make a packet? … The black market in tobacco is booming" runs a line in one of the ads. "Standardising packs will make them easier to fake and cost taxpayers millions more than the £3bn lost in unpaid duty last year."
Cancer Research UK lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority that the claims that the black market is "booming" and that £3bn was lost in unpaid duty were misleading.
The ASA referred to a report from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, Tackling Tobacco Smuggling: Building on Our Success, which stated that the "tobacco illicit market had been reduced significantly over the last decade".
The ASA also found that the HMRC used upper and lower limits for estimating losses from unpaid duty – ranging from about £1.2bn to £3bn for cigarettes and hand-rolled tobacco. It said that Gallaher's ads do not state that the £3bn figure is not just for cigarettes, which most consumers would expect from reading the ads.
The ASA concluded that the ads were misleading and told Gallaher they must not appear again without changes.
"This ruling comes as a result of one complaint made to the ASA, from a group which campaigns and lobbies for tobacco control measures rather than from any member of the general public," said Paul Willimans, head of corporate affairs at Gallaher's parent company Japan Tobacco International. "Whilst we will not publish the advertisement in question again, we disagree with those who appear to wish to close down this debate by challenging the semantics of our statements rather than the substance. We will continue to express our concerns, as it is essential that common sense and sound evidence prevail."
Last month Ash, Ash Scotland and Cancer Research UK won a ruling from the ASA banning Gallaher's first round of ads taking aim at the Department of Health's consultation on the introduction of plain packs.