Cigarette advertising report 'flawed'

A GOVERNMENT report which said cigarette advertising encouraged people to smoke and that a ban could cut smoking by more than 7 per cent was described as 'seriously flawed' by the advertising industry yesterday.

The industry is mounting a counter-offensive against the lobby for a statutory ban, which is being resisted by the Government but was this week endorsed by the Conservative-dominated health committee.

The committee accused the Government of procrastination and said conclusive proof of the link between advertising and consumption was 'in the nature of things, unobtainable'.

According to last year's report by Clive Smee, chief economic adviser at the Department of Health, advertising is a 'significant' incentive to children to start smoking and to adults to increase consumption. However, the Advertising Association is to release its own review of research which it says refutes Mr Smee's findings.

It said yesterday that the Smee report arrived at 'sweeping and unjustified conclusions based on a limited and incomplete review of the evidence'.

Among its criticisms is that the report cited only two references on why children started smoking, against at least 80 available. The association's research review, to be published next week, has a 70- page bibliography.

The Government has given the tobacco industry and its opponents until the end of January to comment on the Smee report.

Advertising industry leaders who met officials from the Department of Health this week included John Ritchie of Collett Dickenson Pearce, the agency behind the Hamlet cigar advertisements.

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