BAT challenges communication ban

British American Tobacco (BAT) said it wanted the high court to lift a ban on "one-to-one" communication with smokers.

If it did not get that, it wanted the court to declare the ban to be an infringement of the company's constitutional rights. "The company seeks for the (law) to be amended to allow one-to-one communication with its consenting adult smokers," it said.
A judgment in BAT's favour could reverse amendments to the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act proclaimed in August. These further curtailed the room companies such as BAT have to market their products. Conventional advertising channels were closed to tobacco producers in 2001 and they have since had to rely on other measures.
There is dispute, however, about exactly what "one-to-one" communication means. The National Council Against Smoking, a lobby group, said BAT wanted to use the challenge to overcome restrictions on advertising and promoting cigarettes to young people, through word-of- mouth invitations to parties promoting smoking.
"In practice, this means that the industry will be able to use techniques known as 'viral', 'buzz' or guerrilla marketing to target teens," said spokesman Yussuf Saloojee.
BAT denied this.
"This form of communication has absolutely nothing to do with interacting in any shape or form with children or nonsmokers for that matter. Any reference to parties or any other form of mass gathering is totally misleading and disingenuous as all forms of mass communication have been banned," it said. (pi)

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