UK Public Supports Tobacco Ad Ban
LONDON (Reuters Health) - Two of out three people in the UK want the government to introduce a ban on tobacco advertising and almost half believe ministers have delayed legislation because of pressure from the tobacco industry, according to a survey relea
Anti-smoking groups and cancer charities say the survey results show ministers are out of step with public opinion and have called on the government to introduce legislation as quickly as possible.
The Labour party pledged during June's general election campaign to ban tobacco advertising. However, it has so far failed to introduce a bill, with ministers blaming lack of parliamentary time.
The new poll of 1,000 people, carried out by ICM research on behalf of the anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), suggests that 48% of voters reject the government's excuse.
Professor Gordon McVie, director general of the Cancer Research Campaign, urged the government to take action. ``Health professionals, the general public and even the government have stated that they are opposed to tobacco advertising. Only the tobacco industry is in favour of it. The government claims it wants to ban tobacco advertising. Now is the time to deliver,'' he said in a statement.
Sir Paul Nurse, director general of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, said a ban would help the government to achieve its target of reducing smoking rates. ``By imposing a ban today, the government would be well on the way to achieving its Cancer Plan target to reduce smoking rates by 4%.''
In a statement, Nurse added, ``It's clear from this research that banning tobacco advertising would be a popular move. It seems bizarre that the government is sitting on such an important bill.''
John Connolly, Public Affairs Manager at ASH, agreed that the poll results showed banning tobacco advertising would be popular with voters. ``This poll shows just how out of step with public opinion the government is over banning tobacco advertising. A ban would save lives, cost next to nothing and be very popular. I can't think of much other legislation you can say that about,'' he said in a statement.
``If Ministers are worried about voter cynicism, a tobacco ad-ban would go a long way towards reassuring the public that the government puts public health ahead of big business,'' he added.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said ministers were committed to introducing a ban. He told Reuters Health, ''We also want to ban tobacco advertising and that is why the Tobacco Bill and the commitment to introduce it was part of the Labour party's election manifesto. That will happen as soon as parliamentary time is available. We want to ban tobacco advertising as soon as possible.''