Letter: Advertising of tobacco products

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The Independent Online
Sir: Emma Forrest's letter to Brian Mawhinney, calling for a tobacco advertising ban (7 March) exhibits an interesting paradox. On the one hand, she asserts that tobacco advertising encourages new smokers, especially teenagers, but after pointing to her own experience, she tells us that she tried smoking 'because everyone else was doing it and I didn't want to be rude or standoffish'.

Either Ms Forrest is different from all her contemporaries, or she grants tobacco advertising an influence it does not have. Independent research from all over the world shows that peer pressure and the influence of the family are the decisive reasons why children start to smoke.

Tobacco advertising, like advertising for many hundreds of products in a mature market, cannot make people buy something they do not want. Like advertising for petrol or soap powder, it is used to build and defend market share for brands in (where tobacco is concerned) a steeply declining market.

Rather than look for spurious reasons why tobacco advertising should be banned, Ms Forrest is right to speculate whether tobacco's critics should own up to their wish to see the product banned altogether.

Yours faithfully,

BEN WELSH

Public Affairs Manager

Tobacco Manufacturers Association

London, SW1

7 March

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