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Quit outraged at tobacco marketing practices

Sunday 9 April, 2000

Quit is outraged at tobacco marketing practices which it says are clearly against the spirit of the law, and may even constitute a breach of Victoria's Tobacco Act.

Quit Executive Director Todd Harper put on display today several examples of gifts and promotional items being included with the purchase of cigarettes that Quit believe are contrary to the spirit of the law.

The examples include:

  • a watch with Peter Jackson cigarettes;
  • a keyring 'mini ashtray' with Holidays;
  • lighters with packs of Horizon and SuperKings;
  • a diary and pen with Alpine cigarettes;
  • a CD storage case with Marlboro
  • a lighter and lighter pouch with a twin pack of Davidoff cigarettes;
  • a shot glass with a packet of Peter Jackson cigarettes

Most of the examples were sourced by Quit at various Victorian retail outlets between July 1999 up to as recently as this week.

Mr Harper said Victoria's Tobacco Act states gifts cannot be supplied with the sale of a tobacco product or for the purpose of promoting the sale of a tobacco product.

'We know from tobacco companies own internal documents obtained by Quit that they have detailed knowledge of each state's tobacco regulations.'

'We will be asking the Department of Human Services to investigate the examples we've displayed today.'

Mr Harper said Quit was also concerned that some of the promotional items and point of sale advertising may be attractive to children.

'We also know these gifts and promotional items have a powerful effect on young people in particular. Research shows getting a free promotional item influences which brand of cigarettes young people buy.'

Mr Harper said tobacco companies' internal documents also highlight the importance of merchandising in marketing strategies.

'Today we have released Wills marketing documents that talk about using 'consumer incentives' to increase market share over other brands, and a recent document explicitly mentions the strategy of 'redirecting funds to increasingly scarce (and expensive) merchandising and consumer promotions'.'

Mr Harper also stressed the need for legislation to ban point of sale advertising, showing numerous examples of shops saturated with tobacco point of sale advertising, and cigarettes positioned next to sweets and lollies.

'We've been documenting an increasing saturation of cigarette advertising in shops, which exposes even very young children to the advertising message when they purchase sweets, ice-creams and soft drinks.'

'Some of the examples we've revealed today appear to breach the Act, which only allows point of sale advertising adjacent to the place where cigarettes are sold in outlets.

'This only emphasises how important the Government's proposed restrictions on point of sale advertising are - research shows partial bans have little impact on youth smoking, but comprehensive bans on advertising and promotion can have a major impact on youth and young adult smoking.'

Mr Harper called on the Government to go further and introduce a licensing scheme so that retailers who sell cigarettes to children lose their right to sell cigarettes.

'Retailers have very serious obligations when they're selling a dangerous product ­ and let's remember tobacco is a product which kills half of its lifetime users.'

Mr Harper said some of the funds raised through a licensing system could be used on an education campaign to ensure all retailers understood the regulations about the sale and display of tobacco.

Last year a survey conducted in Melbourne suburbs showed 43% of retail outlets tested were caught selling tobacco to underage children.

'Introducing a licensing system is the only way to protect children from irresponsible retailers who only care about making a sale.

Mr Harper said provisions were also needed to enable tobacco companies to be penalised for misleading retailers.

'Truth provisions have been introduced into tobacco control legislation elsewhere. This means tobacco companies can be penalised if they mislead retailers about the legalities of their displays or products.'

ends

Further information:

Zoe Furman
Media Communications Manager
Quit Victoria

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