It is a news that makes noise across the Channel! According to information provided by the GuardianIndo public relations campaign against the NHS (National Health Service) and smoking cessation services, which led to articles in local newspapers across England allegedly funded by British American Tobacco .
A FURTIVE COMMUNICATION TO DEFEND THE NHS?
Last week, the public relations agency Pagefield sent out press releases that appeared to be trying to discredit the NHS and tobacco control services, which are said to generate huge savings nationwide by helping people quit smoking. But problem, the Pagefield agency has in no case specified that it was working at that time on behalf of the cigarette manufacturer British American Tobacco .
Citing NHS figures, the press release documented the cost per taxpayer of the plans in their regions without taking into account the money saved by health services by reducing the burden of smokers in need of treatment. British American Tobacco, owner of the brand of e-cigarettes Vype, for its part suggested that the campaign was aimed at encouraging smokers to start vaping.
We understand that when this data was originally shared with journalists, it may not have been clear that it was in the name of BAT - British American Tobacco UK
The press release was used in many local newspapers. The East London and the West Essex Guardian wrote that the Redbridge board had spent almost £ 5 on each smoker they helped quit smoking last year, noting the amount spent on nicotine gum, patches and sprays. The Northumberland Gazette for its part titled: " The cost of smoking cessation services in Northumberland relative to the number of people who actually quit " However, and therein lies the problem, the articles did not mention the sponsor, ie British American Tobacco.
Following this, the spokesman for BAT UK said he was determined to reduce the impact of its activities on health by offering consumers a choice of harm reduction alternatives including vaping products.
» We think it is important to raise the debate on new publicly available data that shows that the cost to the taxpayer of traditional smoking cessation tools has increased significantly compared to the cost of vaping ", They said.
« We understand that when this data was originally shared with journalists, it may not have been clear that it was on behalf of BAT and as soon as we became aware of it, we asked our public relations agency to contact all journalists the next day to clarify this point. »
Pagefield, who previously worked for the tobacco giant Philip morris on his IQOS cigarette machines, said he had worked to educate the public about alternatives to smoking and that this campaign sought to encourage smokers to smoke.
The communications company said: " Evidence shows vaping helps record number of smokers quit, public data showsEntations now reveal that vaping is cheaper than traditional weaning aids. This raises an important public policy issue, about which we gathered and released data earlier this week on behalf of BAT and Vype, and this was made clear to journalists we spoke to. "
Deborah Arnott, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said it was the first time to his knowledge that a tobacco company in the United Kingdom used a public relations agency to issue a press release which did not reveal the identity of his client.
« This secret vape advertisement claims to be public information and has been covered as such by unsuspecting journalists. BAT has an appalling and shameful record going back several generations. Just last year, BAT broke the rules of advertising by promoting its Vype e-cigarettes to young people on social networks. »
The counselor Ian hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association's community welfare council, said that reducing smoking rates among the 6 million smokers in England was the "most important thing" that councils could do to improve public health, smoking-related illnesses cost the NHS around £ 2,5 billion a year.