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JTI tobacco ad banned following complaint from Cancer Research UK

A press ad for Gallaher-owned JTI tobacco has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after 13 complaints, including one from Cancer Research UK, were submitted to the body over misleading information.

The advert, which appeared in April 2013, included an e-mail from the UK Department of Health to the Australian Department of Health and Ageing. The email featured text, which stated, “I work on the UK Government’s Tobacco Policy Team … you will be aware that the UK Government is considering the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco products. As I’m sure you’re aware, one of the difficulties regarding this is that nobody has done this and therefore, there isn’t any hard evidence to show that it works”.

The text “there isn’t any hard evidence to show that it works” was highlighted in the ad followed by wording “We couldn’t have put it better ourselves”.

The majority of complainants felt that the email, which predated research and the introduction of standardised packaging in Australia, there misleading implied that no evidence existed to support plain packaging of tobacco products.

Gallaher said the ad was intended to question the rationale of the Department of Health’s (DoH) approach in 2011 and said at the time the ad appeared, JTI’s UK managing director publicly stated “We are using this media campaign to demonstrate that in 2011 even the DoH accepted that these proposals are not supported by any hard evidence”.

They company added that the ad did not state or imply that at the time the ad appeared there existed no evidence to support the introduction of plain packaging.

However the ASA disagreed and said the ad was likely to give readers the misleading impression that there was no hard evidence of any kind to support the introduction of plain packaging in 2013.

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