Medicine And The Media

Anatomy of a media backlash

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 31 May 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1631
  1. Douglas Carnall
  1. BMJ

    Since Labour promised to ban tobacco sponsorship the media have been full of tales of how sport will suffer. Douglas Carnall examines the coverage

    The Labour party manifesto said: “Smoking is the greatest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in the UK. We will therefore ban tobacco advertising.” In the Queen's speech this manifesto commitment was reiterated. There then followed squawks of protest in the media, with comments from the directors of sporting events likely to be affected by the ban and representatives of the tobacco industry. This is immediately understandable once you think about conflict of interest–how dare the government intrude on the hitherto profitable relationship between newspaper proprietors and tobacco companies? Newspaper advertising sales are worth about £3.5bn a year. Losing the £50m of that which is spent on promoting tobacco is not disastrous, but 1% cuts do hurt–ask anyone in the NHS.

    It is the recipients of the tobacco companies' spending on media that will suffer more than the tobacco companies; as Dominic Mills, the editorial director of Campaign magazine pointed out, the tobacco companies can divert their …

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