A row has broken out over the latest ad from JTI in its fight against plain packaging for tobacco products.
The national press ad shows a 2011 communication from the Department of Health which states that “there isn’t any hard evidence to show that [plain packaging] works”.
JTI – whose brands include Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut – said the letter had been obtained from the DoH by a freedom of information request.
Jorge de Motta, managing director of JTI UK, said: “We have always argued that plain packaging will not prevent children from smoking, but enforcing existing initiatives such as No ID, No Sale, punishing those who buy tobacco on behalf of children and cutting the illegal supply chain can work.”
The campaign was attacked by anti-smoking campaign group ASH Scotland, whose chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “What their money can’t buy is facts.
“There are no new revelations here, just the same old tobacco industry up to its same old tricks.
“Governments around the world are trying to tackle the harm caused by tobacco and a growing number, including Scotland, believe they have found a new tool to help.”
A previous phase in the campaign, using a different information source, was condemned by the Advertising Standard Authority last month.
Ads claimed that the idea had been rejected by the UK government in 2008, but the ASA ruled that this was “misleading”.
The UK government carried out a consultation on plain packaging last year and there is speculation that it could introduce legislation later this year.
Scotland has already indicated it will introduce standardised packs unilaterally if the UK does not pursue that option.
Australia became the first country to introduce compulsory plain packs of tobacco products last year.
The latest row broke out as think-tank the Centre for Economics & Business Research claimed plain packaging could result in revenue loss of between, £12 million and £20 million for small independent retailers, resulting in up to 3,500 job losses.