ASA rules Japan Tobacco International must not use advert again in its current form

Cancer Research UK

Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has today (Wednesday) been rapped over the knuckles for the fourth time by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for their misleading advertising*. 

"This is another occasion of JTI’s adverts being ruled misleading. They have invested time, effort and a lot of money into devising an advert to undermine this vital public health measure." - Cancer Research UK's Sarah Woolnough

Cancer Research UK has lodged complaints against JTI adverts on four occasions, and this is the fourth time that the ASA has ruled its adverts are misleading**.

The advert from April 2013 was again designed to cast doubt about the evidence for plain, standardised tobacco packaging - a measure the UK government has been consulting on since 2012 to help reduce the appeal to smoking to young and reduce smoking rates.

An email from the UK Department of Health to the Australian Department of Health and Ageing was featured with JTI highlighting the words: “there isn’t any hard evidence to show that it works”.

After reviewing the adverts the ASA has ruled that the email was taken out of context and did not reflect the evidence available on standardised packaging. By the time the advert was printed, Australia had introduced standard packs and many peer reviewed studies had been published as well a systemic review of the evidence.

Sarah Woolnough, executive director of policy and information at Cancer Research UK, said: “This is another occasion of JTI’s adverts being ruled misleading. They have invested time, effort and a lot of money into devising an advert to undermine this vital public health measure. But the Government’s own independent evidence review, coupled with falling smoking rates in Australia – where the measure is in place – show that standardised packaging can reduce the terrible burden of tobacco which kills 100,000 people each year in the UK. We’re again urging the government not to delay and to introduce plain, standardised packs as soon as possible."

The ASA has ruled that the advertisement cannot be used again in its current form and JTI must ensure that future adverts do not mislead the public.

Draft regulations on the specific details of what the new packs might look like – size, colours labels etc – are the subject of a six week government consultation which closes on August 7.

ENDS

For media enquiries contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.

Notes to Editor

* ASA Final Adjudication. Case number: A13-228477/DJW http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications.aspx  

** Cancer Research UK complained along with the Action on Smoking and Health, the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies plus ten others. 

Details of earlier objections and rulings can be found here:

First objection and ruling.

Second objection and ruling.

Third objection and ruling.