Tobacco-funded lobby group begins attack ads

A tobacco industry-funded group claiming to represent small businesses today launched an advertising campaign targeting Labor’s policy of plain packaging for cigarettes.

The Alliance of Australian Retailers – whose website is registered to Melbourne-based PR company The Civic Group – today began running full page newspaper ads.  

The new organisation describes the government’s policy on plain packaging as “the last straw” for small business owners with the ad claiming: “The government should support hard-working Australians instead of pursuing an untested and unproven policy.”

The ad discloses that the group is “supported” by British American Tobacco, Philip Morris and Imperial Tobacco.

According to their LinkedIn profiles, Jason Aldworth and Andres Puig, who both previously worked in senior roles at PR company CPR – are the two directors of The Civic Group.

The tactic of lobby groups attacking Government policies ostensibly for the good of ordinary Australians was recently successfully used by mining companies to overturn tax plans. After the ads began to run, prime minister Kevin Rudd’s popularity fell and he was ousted by Julia Gillard who changed the policy.

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