Letter: Stop tinkering and just ban tobacco

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your concerns about the oppressiveness of a state ban on tobacco promotion should be waved aside (leading article, 20 May). The addictive character of the product diminishes the smoker's ability to choose. The tobacco-related death toll of 300 per day would stimulate the most draconian action if it occurred as the result of any other activity - imagine if there was an air crash every day in Britain.

Frank Dobson's proposals do not go far enough. The tobacco industry's marketing budget should be visualised as a giant balloon of money - squash it down in one place and it will bulge somewhere else. To eradicate the industry's pernicious image-making, the Government will need to ban all forms of promotion, including arts and all other sponsorship, direct mail, loyalty schemes and so on. A partial ban could lead to a legislative "arms race", whereby tobacco companies devise ever more ingenious promotional ideas, and the Government responds with controlling legislation. It would be sensible to anticipate the likely course of events and introduce a pervasive ban on all tobacco promotion from the outset.

CLIVE BATES

London N16

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