Government anti-smoking ads banned

A series of government anti-smoking advertisements have been banned because they frightened children.

The posters, part of the 'Get Unhooked' campaign, showed smokers' faces being hooked with fish hooks to illustrate how they were 'hooked' on cigarettes.

The campaign, which also included television commercials and internet, magazine and press adverts, generated 774 objections from the public, saying that the images were offensive, frightening and distressing, particularly for children.

The Advertising Standards Authority said that the posters were in breach of the advertising code's rules relating to causing "fear and distress" and children.

The ASA also found that two television commercials had breached guidelines because they were shown at times when children could be watching television.

However, complaints about two other commercials and other internet, press and magazine adverts were not upheld by the watchdog.

The Department of Health said that the 'Get Unhooked' campaign had been "highly effective", resulting in its anti-smoking helpline, website and TV stages being contacted more than 820,000 times during the campaign.

The Department of Health said that the ads had been designed to confront smokers with the "controlling nature" of their addiction in order to help them stop smoking.

The department said that they acknowledged that some people might have found elements of "violence and misfortune" in the hook metaphor, but believed that the ads would not cause serious offence because the ads aimed to protect people from the damaging effects of smoking.


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