letters :

A ban on tobacco advertising has clearly taken on symbolic importance for everyone involved in the war against smoking, and as a result some important arguments have been overlooked.

Government has a responsibility to educate people about the health risks of smoking, but banning the promotion of a legal product is a step too far.

A ban would set a precedent that could extend to other products such as alcohol, fatty foods and fast cars.

Health professionals claim that a ban will reduce the number of young people who smoke, but all the evidence suggests that teenagers start smoking because of peer pressure and a desire to appear 'grown up'. Advertising has nothing to do with it.

Advertising was banned in the old Soviet Union, but that didn't stop a large majority of the male population from smoking.

Most important, prohibiting tobacco advertising will be counter-productive.

It will remove all those government health warnings from thousands of billboards, magazines, and newspapers and, as a young smoker myself, it is those warnings - not the obscure images featured in the advertisements - that stick in my head.

Josephine Gaffikin FOREST (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) London SW1