ASA Adjudication on West Sussex Primary Care Trust

An anti-smoking pamphlet in a doctor’s office contained a number of claims, including that (1) tobacco companies actively target young people; (2) tobacco companies give out free cigarettes to children; and (3) NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) can help people quit smoking. The Advertisings Standards Authority (ASA) found the first and third claims misleading and ordered the ad not to be broadcast again in its current form. Specifically, the ASA found that the company which created the pamphlet provided insufficient evidence of active targeting of young people in the UK especially because most tobacco advertising and promotion are prohibited in that region. Additionally, the claim about NRT was misleading because it implied that people would be able to stop smoking permanently, rather than for at least four weeks, which was the reference period used by the company. The ASA did not find the claim about free distribution of cigarettes to children to be misleading because the company provided evidence of such practices in developing countries.