Gallaher accused of stealth advertising

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The Independent Online

The tobacco giant Gallaher has been accused of abusing its sponsorship of Formula One racing by resorting to "back door" advertising for its Benson & Hedges brand.

The criticisms, levelled by the anti-smoking group Ash, come just weeks after the Government banned cigarette advertising on billboards and in newspapers and magazines. Ash chastised Gallaher for placing several features on last weekend's British Grand Prix extolling the Jordan team, which is sponsored by Gallaher and branded with the Benson & Hedges logo.

The eight-page piece in this month's issue of Maxim, owned by Dennis Publishing, included no fewer than 40 B&H logos. It bore the strapline: "Maxim F1 special in association with Benson & Hedges Jordan". Similar pieces also ran in FHM and the News of the World.

Ash claimed the Maxim feature was "tantamount to advertising by the back door". It said Gallaher was using Formula One's exemption from the ban on tobacco sponsorship until 2005 as a loophole to run cigarette adverts.

"They have broken the spirit of the law," an Ash spokeswoman said, accusing Dennis Publishing of "colluding in allowing tobacco companies to flout the ban". Ash is writing to the publisher to complain. Gallaher denied the features were "advertorials" - paid for marketing features.

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