COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Charities receive £15m for anti-smoking drive

JOHN PLUMMER

Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation are to meet this week to formulate a strategy for spending the £15 million awarded by the Government to develop anti-smoking campaigns.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn has asked the two charities to take over the Government's role of educating the nation on the dangers of tobacco for the next three years.

Milburn's statement, part of a series of tough new anti-smoking measures, is tacit admission that the public trusts charities more than the state.

It also sets a precedent for more charities to be paid by the Government to deliver national safety campaigns.

Jenny Grey, Cancer Research UK's director of corporate and external affairs, said the sum would "enable us to take our tobacco campaign up a gear".

She added: "The voluntary sector has more credibility than the Government in delivering health messages. We are more trusted."

The ads will be designed to shock, following the success of similar tactics overseas, but Grey hinted that TV would not be the sole focus.

"There's a number of media we could use," she said. "We've submitted proposals that have a number of elements."

Betty McBride, director of marketing and communications at BHF, said: "We're delighted. It's a great opportunity to collaborate with the Government and work with Cancer Research. It's like 15 million early Christmas presents."

McBride described the BHF and Cancer Research as "fellow travellers on a lot of issues". Both organisations fund anti-smoking charity ASH.

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