01 June 1997

TOBACCO COMPANIES are now implementing long-laid plans to move below-the-line as the ad ban they have long anticipated draws near. Some £50m is spent annually by the industry on conventional advertising and much [although certainly not all] of this windfall will seep through the line. A spokesman for the Tobacco Manufacturers Association expressed well-rehearsed disappointment at the Labour Government’s proposed white paper on restraining the promotion of tobacco products: 'We believe that we should be allowed to communicate with our customers to sell a legitimate product and we deplore any restriction on the advertising of our product.' [Oh, yeah? The tobacco companies started building databases as a bulwark against an inevitable ad ban at least twelve years ago. Among the first was Philip Morris, which read the writing on the wall in 1985 and started to build a database of its own and competitive-brand smokers. Debrief’s editor was involved in this project - to his lasting shame - and was told by a senior PM executive that any across-the-board ban on advertising would be privately welcomed by the industry as a whole because of its expected beneficial effect on the bottom line .]