SUBMISSION TO NATIONAL ASSEMBLY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HEALTH
BY: MEDIA CO-ORDINATION (PTY) LTD
Date: 20 October 1998
Presented by: Jan Pool - Managing Director, Aletta Coetzee - Operations Director
Chairperson and committee members, thank you for the opportunity allowed to our company to present our views at these public hearings on the Anti Tobacco Amendment Bill.
Our company, Media Co-ordination, is a specialist media buying agency. We buy, co-ordinate and administer advertising space and time for a number of diversified clients. We employ 27 people with a total of +-135 dependants.
Tobacco advertising contributes significantly to our company's turnover. Our company, the personnel and their dependants will therefore be severely affected by a total ban of tobacco advertising.
Because of the nature of our business, I would like to devote my talk to the brand advertising aspect of the Bill only.
Firstly let me say that we have always had a very responsible approach towards the advertising of tobacco products.
1. Television: when commercial TV became available our client voluntarily and without any pressure implemented a policy not to apply for advertising time. We never deviated from this policy. To the best of my knowledge the authorities never placed a ban on tobacco advertising on TV.
2. When the legislation relating to the advertising and sale of tobacco products was introduced in 1995 we immediately adapted all our advertising to conform to the letter of the law. I personally travelled throughout the country to do numerous presentations to all the various media, to advertising agencies that we deal with and even to some clients to ensure that everyone understands the legislation and not contravene any of the regulations.
3. We reduced our exposure in cinemas to approximately half of what it was formerly to ensure that tobacco advertising will not be featured during school holidays or at movies with a teenager appeal and so on.
4. We had a relook at magazines and withdrew from all publications which we thought were slanted towards youths.
5. We also reconfirmed our policy not to advertise near or on approaches to schools to the outdoor advertising industry at large.
6. As new radio stations were developed and licensed we declined most of the media opportunities because of the way in which they targeted youths.
Certainly, Chairperson, you can therefore see our commitment to responsible advertising.
I believe, on the other hand, that our client has a democratic and legal right to advertise and promote their products which may be legally produced and sold. I concede that the advertising should be exposed and displayed in a responsible and acceptable manner.
We agree that it is governments duty to protect the youth and ensure a healthy environment in which they can grow up.
There are four issues that should be looked at when this draft legislation is considered.
1. The health issue: here it is especially important to avoid opportunities of advertising exposure to youths.
2. The economic affect: a total ban will add to the already unacceptable unemployment factor, a situation our country can ill-afford in the current recessionary phase. We should rather endeavour to create more jobs.
Government will also lose revenue because of a decline in tax revenue.
3. Warning the consumers of the possible dangers of smoking: if a total ban is imposed the existing facility where health warnings appear with tobacco advertising will fall away. Government will have to find additional funds to warn the public against the possible harm which smoking may cause.
4. The right to be informed and the freedom of choice: It is every individuals democratic right to be informed of products which are legally available and also to exercise the right to make a choice accordingly.
How can these issues be resolved whilst still retaining tobacco advertising:
· Restrict the content of advertisements. Take the lifestyle out and get rid of the glamour and glitz.
· Allow only brand type advertisements.
· Restrict the size of advertisements. Determine a certain maximum size of advertisement for each medium.
· Retain the existing situation where there is no tobacco brand advertising on Radio and TV.
· Restrict outdoor advertising to major highways into cities and to commercial areas where the predominant exposure would be to adults. Avoid areas close to or roads leading to schools. Also avoid suburbia where children would travel on their bicycles and any other areas where they are likely to gather in groups.
· Restrict tobacco advertising in magazines to those with a skew to adults.
· Newspapers: tobacco advertising should be freely allowed in national newspapers. The incidence of newspaper reading amongst teenagers is very low.
- 4.7% of ALL teenagers in SA read any daily paper.
- 11.6% of ALL teenagers in SA read any weekly paper.
Source: Teen AMPS 1997 - substantiating data sheets are attached.
· Cinema: no advertising during school holidays. No advertising at movies with a youth appeal.
Attach the advertising to adult movies only i.e. for those 18 years and older.
The key and responsible approach should be: regulate and control. HOWEVER, DO NOT BAN.
One last thought, Chairperson. Do you know how advertising works? It works on only one basis namely there must be a need or a want. For instance, you can have the most beautiful advertisement for a lawnmower in a publication. Will this make you rush out to buy? Off course not, because you will only buy if you have a lawn and are without a lawnmower. And that is how advertising normally works in the marketplace. Therefore, nobody will rush out to buy cigarettes if they are exposed to a cigarette advertisement!! How can I tell? I, personally, have been exposed to cigarette advertising for 30 years. YET I DO NOT SMOKE.
Thank you once more for the opportunity to speak.
20 October 1998