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Tobacco companies will keep testing what they can get away with in their efforts to attach the most persuasive images to their cigarette brands, even in countries with total bans on promotion. If they provide the means and rationale for promotion, they can also rely on others to do the same.
In recent months, a motorsports shop in Regent Street, at the very heart of London’s west end shopping area, had a window display of three mannequins dressed in Formula One driving suits, two with Lucky Strike logos on the chest, and one in a Benson & Hedges suit, albeit with new lettering used by B&H to get round the UK’s sponsorship restrictions.
In addition to the mannequins, there were numerous examples of tobacco promotion within the shop, such as model racing cars, drivers’ caps and pictures of motor racing events. Specific tobacco company logos featured on the products included Marlboro, Benson & Hedges and Camel.
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) contacted local trading standards officials, who acted quickly, ordering the shop to remove the tobacco sponsored clothing within a week. ASH had less success with the other promotional items in the shop. It is highly likely that other shops around the UK are doing the same sort of thing, without a well informed and alert passer-by spotting and reporting them. And if a majority of such promotions go unpunished, presumably the industry will keep orchestrating or facilitating them.
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