The UK government is supporting a bid to end tobacco advertising, which it is claimed could save thousands of lives each year.
As the second reading of the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill was opened, Alan Milburn, the Secretary of State for Health voiced government backing. He estimated that a ban would save 3,000 lives a year and save the National Health Service more than GBP40 million a year.
Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s regular smoker and regular customer. Advertising
works, smoking kills, affirmed Mr Milburn. Every year the tobacco industry has to replace the 120,000 customers killed through consuming its products. We should be clear about this. Tobacco advertising and sponsorship act as a recruiting sergeant for children and young teenagers.
If, as expected, the Bill becomes law, then there would be a total ban on press, billboard and Internet advertising of tobacco products. Tobacco companies would no longer be able to sponsor sporting and other public events. In addition, free distribution of tobacco products and coupons would be stopped. There would also be restrictions on the display and promotion of tobacco products in shops.
While both the Liberal Democrats and Labour have openly supported the Bill, the Conservative Party are opposed to it. The Opposition’s health spokesman, Dr Liam Fox, claimed that the real issues should be the prevention of tobacco smuggling and the raising of tobacco prices. These concerns were echoed by the Tobacco Manufacturer’s Association.