A second round of anti-plain packaging ads have been banned for making potentially misleading claims. Japan Tobacco International had a set of ads banned last month for making false claims about government policy.
This welcome judgment highlights that yet more of Japan Tobacco's claims are misleading. The tobacco industry has focused its opposition to plain, standardised packs on a claim the illicit trade would increase.
– Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK's executive director of policy and information
JTI's head of corporate affairs in the UK, Paul Williams said:
Whilst we will not publish the advertisement in question again, we disagree with those who appear to wish to close down this debate by challenging the semantics of our statements rather than the substance.
We will continue to express our concerns, as it is essential that common sense and sound evidence prevail.
The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint from a tobacco company after a second set of anti-plain cigarette packaging adverts have been banned. It said:
Because we considered that consumers would understand the claim 'the black market in tobacco is booming' to mean that the problems with the tobacco illicit market had been increasing, when we understood that that was not the case, we concluded that the ads were likely to mislead.
Japan Tobacco International has claimed that the market in illicit goods is a major global problem and which has grown significantly in size and value over the last 30 years.
The company, which had a different set of ads banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) last month for making false claims about government policy, said HMRC figures from 2011 showed that the illicit tobacco trade already cost taxpayers up to £3 billion per year in lost revenues.
Examples were provided of the £3 billion figure including in a letter to the Home Secretary from MP Jim Sheridan and by the HMRC itself.