Tobacco firms may have to fund anti-smoking ads in U.K.

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LONDON -- The U.K.'s Labour government is believed to be considering the idea of asking tobacco companies to cough up funding for anti- smoking ads.

Health Minister Tessa Jowell is currently taking advice on the best ways to reduce smoking in the U.K. population before putting together proposed legislation in a White Paper towards the end of the summer. Getting the tobacco industry to pay for anti-smoking ads is just one of a volley ideas under consideration. The new government has already made a public commitment to outlaw tobacco advertising, which is currently banned only on TV.

But the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association has hit out at the latest suggestion. "Enough is enough," says Clive Turner, its executive director of industrial affairs. "We are already doing our bit and to spend any more on campaigns that are totally against our interests seems bizarre."

Turner points to the fact that every cigarette packet carries the message, "Smoking kills" and that 20% of all tobacco ads - amounting to $16.6m worth of advertising - is given over to health warnings.

"Our market is worth $21bn, of which the government is already getting $17bn - that's $45m a day - from 15 million smokers," he says. "If the government wants to use some of that on a poster campaign, that's fine, but it's not something we need to do."

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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