Gallaher Tobacco, the maker of such cigarette brands as Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut, has conducted a press campaign, which aimed to make the case against plain cigarette packaging, banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.
A national press advertisement, produced by Big Al’s Creative Emporium, highlighted an unmarked cigarette packet.
The text said: “Why make it easier for criminals to make a packet? In the current economic climate, the black market in tobacco is booming. Standardizing packs will make them easier to fake and cost taxpayers millions more than the £3 billion lost in unpaid duty last year.”
Another ad with identical images mentioned: “The black market in tobacco is booming. Last year it cost the Treasury £3bn in unpaid duty.”
The ASA obtained one issue from Cancer Research reasoning that the claim that “the black market in tobacco is booming” was confusing. The charity indicated to an HMRC survey from 2011 which explained that “the illicit tobacco market had been reduced significantly over the last decade”. Cancer Research also suggested that the “£3bn lost in unpaid duty” was exaggerated.
The ASA decided that saying the tobacco market as “booming” would result consumers in believe that the black market was on the raise but as there was no proof to confirm this, the body came to the conclusion that the statement were likely to confused.
It also observed that Gallaher had taken upper reports to show the £3bn figure and that this also involved income losses for HRT products. In terms of this, the ASA upheld the complaints and said that both advertisements could not be demonstrated once more.
Paul Williams, the corporate affairs director of Gallaher Tobacco-owner Japan Tobacco, said: “The figure of £3bn has been broadly used by numerous parties, including HMRC officials, to explain the loss in income to Authorities. Whatever word or figure is used to explain the scale of the issue, it is a big challenge which should be a problem to all.
“While we will not post this advertisement once more, we don’t agree with those who want finish this question by challenging the semantics of our statements, rather than the substance,” Williams completed.
Gallaher is the third largest of the three major British tobacco groups; the other two are British American Tobacco, the maker of Lucky Strike and Kent cigarettes, and Imperial Tobacco, the producer of Davidoff and Gauloises brands.