Tobacco companies 'woo teenagers'
The tobacco industry has been accused of carrying out a "sinister and cynical" public relations campaign to encourage teenagers to smoke.
Anti-smoking pressure group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the Cancer Research Campaign said internal indus
They have suggested that while companies publicly say they are against teenage smoking they are privately taking action to encourage young people to take up the habit.
Anyone whose job in life is promoting cigarettes should never be allowed near teenagers
Professor Gordon McVie, Cancer Research Campaign
But the tobacco industry has hit back saying that it does not target teenagers in any way and accusing the groups of making wild accusations.
In a report, published on Tuesday, ASH said industry claims that cigarettes are an adult-only product actually aim to make them more attractive to teenagers.
They said while manufacturers supported initiatives to stop teenagers smoking, their sponsorship of events like formula one motor racing also aimed to make the habit more appealing.
Clive Bates, of ASH, said: "When you look at what they say privately and compare it to their public posturing the whole idea that tobacco companies might be working against teenage smoking is revealed as sinister self-serving public relations."
He added: "It's blatantly obvious they want to associate the anti-smoking message with parents, teachers and other boring representatives of adult authority but reserve the people that make a difference like racing drivers and other celebrities for promoting smoking."
We totally refute these wild allegations
Professor Gordon McVie, director general of the CRC, said: "Anyone whose job in life is promoting cigarettes should never be allowed near teenagers. You just can't trust them with truth and you can't trust them with young people."
Both men urged health authorities to ensure anti-smoking policies targeted the whole population and not just teenagers.
They said teenage-only campaigns highlight the adult nature of smoking and increase its appeal.
They also called on health authorities not to engage with the tobacco industry "in any circumstance" in smoking control programmes.
However, John Carlisle, public affairs director for Tobacco Manufacturers Association described the claims as wild.
"We totally refute these wild allegations masquerading as a new report. In reality they are old accusations with a new title.
"It demonstrates how desperate the anti-tobacco forces have become in trying to publicise their tax funded activities.
"The tobacco industry does not target children with its advertising. It is prevented from doing so by government agreement."