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Cigarette marketing must be stubbed out

22 November 2006

Cigarette marketing must be stubbed out - Greens

The Green Party is calling on the Government to consider a broad range of regulations - in addition to new packaging requirements that come into force next year - to better control the advertising of cigarettes.

"Tobacco companies are masters of marketing," Greens' Drug and Alcohol Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"Research by Timothy Dewhirst, from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, found that tobacco companies deliberately use indicators of low tar content, to reassure smokers concerned about the health risks of smoking - and to convey the idea that smoking mild or light cigarettes is a viable alternative to quitting."

This research cited corporate documents demonstrating that cigarette manufacturers recognised the inherent deceptiveness of cigarette brands described as 'Light' or 'Ultra-Light'. Mrs Turei says: "The fact is that smoking can and does kill people, whether 'light' or otherwise. And the Green Party is demanding to see an end to this kind of misleading advertising in New Zealand."

The Smokefree Coalition has asked the Commerce Commission to investigate British American Tobacco for their use of the terms 'mild' and 'light' to describe their cigarettes. "The Government has taken some steps to control the tobacco menace, such as requiring all cigarette packages to display graphic pictures of the harmful effects of smoking and banning advertising and sponsorship.

However, at a Smokefree Coalition presentation today for MPs by ASH Australia Chief Executive Anne Jones, and Dr Dewhirst, it was clearly demonstrated how tobacco companies will find loop holes to market their products to new and young smokers. "We have to make sure that we close those loop holes. The best regulatory regime would include banning word and colour descriptors that imply a safer product and requiring generic packaging and graphic picture displays at outlets.

Out of sight displays in shops would prevent children associating lollies with cigarettes and would help to deter new smokers. "The fact is that tobacco companies target new smokers, because they become customers for life. Every effort needs to be made to stop this at source," Mrs Turei says.


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