Letter: Advertising of tobacco products

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The Independent Online
Sir: Nicholas Timmins's article 'Tobacco adverts 'too near schools' ' (7 March) correctly points out that responsibility for compliance with the voluntary restrictions on tobacco advertising on posters near schools rests with the tobacco manufacturers. Tobacco companies are required by the agreements not to purchase poster space that they know to be covered by the restrictions.

Yet the Tobacco Manufacturers Association (TMA) is quoted in the article as blaming 'poster companies' for placing such adverts in defiance of the restrictions 'without thinking properly'. The TMA should not be permitted to wriggle out of its responsibilities so easily.

Despite not having been party to the restrictions, and having no formal role in their enforcement, the Outdoor Advertising Association (OAA), which represents the majority of the owners of outdoor billboard sites and all the major firms in the industry, takes its responsibilities in this matter very seriously. The OAA would take action to discipline any of its member companies found to have breached this voluntary code by agreeing to let a site that it knew to be covered by the agreement for tobacco advertising.

The real question is, why are the tobacco companies continuing to buy these spaces in violation of their voluntary agreement with the Government?

Yours sincerely,

ROGER FERNLEY

Chairman

Outdoor Advertising Association

London, W1

7 March

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