01 September 1999

'ET TU BRUTE' or words to that effect echoed through the smoke-filled rooms of the tobacco trade following the Conservative Party U-turn on tobacco advertising. Former Tory MP John Carlisle, now a paid apologist for the Tobacco Manufacturer’s Association, condemned the about-turn of his former chums as 'very disappointing'. The decision to support the ad ban was announced by Tory shadow health secretary Dr Liam Fox, himself a non-smoker. 'It’s a done deal', diagnosed the doc, stating that the Tories would not attempt to 'unpick' the ban if they win the next election. Nor, said Dr Fox, were they still committed to a freeze on tobacco duty, although it was too early to clarify the Conservative stance on ciga-rette taxes. The latter issue was complicated by the increase in smuggled cigarettes - currently estimated at around 15% of UK sales. The Tory policy document also urged the targeting of anti-smoking campaigns on those in their late 20s and early 30s - 'groups which evidence suggests are the most responsive', rather than teenagers who tend to ignore such warnings. Dr Fox also pressed for more rigorous enforcement of the ban on sales of cigarettes to under-16s. Both policy changes were welcomed by anti-smoking lobby group ASH: 'It’s great to see them abandoning opposition to tobacco advertising bans', it said.