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GSK in anti-smoking race

GlaxoSmithKline has launched a Ä5m anti-smoking marketing campaign in Italy in an attempt to secure a large proportion of the lucrative market.

GlaxoSmithKline has launched a Ä5m anti-smoking marketing campaign in Italy in an attempt to secure a large proportion of the lucrative market, ahead of its rivals.

The company's decision to kick-start sales of its NiQuitin nicotine replacement gum and patches comes as Italy gears up to enforce a smoking ban in bars, restaurants and cafÈs and coincides with new local laws restricting smoking in the workplace.

The initial campaign will be the same as the one seen in the UK - the 24-hour Step Down Plan - with the bulk of the advertising for the product being TV-focused.

There are no plans for a telephone help line at the moment but users will be able to get additional support from an internet site. The company plans to corner the retail market, worth between Ä12m and Ä13m, over the next three years.

Marco Ramadori, president of Codacons, Italy's leading consumer association said he had been waiting for this legislation for some time and believes that the ban is an example to the younger generation.

GSK's renewed focus on smoking cessation products in southern Europe comes in the wake of news that there has been a 36 per cent rise in sales of the company's products in Ireland following a smoking ban in public places enforced in March last year.

Anti-smoking campaigns in southern Europe have traditionally garnered little or no interest. However, manufacturers of smoking cessation products believe that this is set to change as governments across Europe discuss smoking bans and tax hikes on tobacco products.

As a result, GSK plan to roll out similar anti-smoking marketing campaigns in Spain and Portugal.

With bans due to be introduced in the Netherlands, where 30 per cent of the 16 million population are smokers - only Spain, Greece and Germany have a higher rate - and bans already in place in Ireland and Norway, which imposed a national smoking ban on June 1 last year, the market for smoking cessation products is set to significantly increase.

Worldwide, a number of countries including Iran and Tanzania have introduce smoking bans while the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan has introduced an outright ban on the sale of tobacco products.

While England has not yet implemented a nationwide smoking ban, it favours a ban for almost all enclosed public areas. Wales is likely to follow suit.

GSK currently dominates the UK market for nicotine replacement therapies with sales amounting to £160m per annum. The company claims that the chances of quitting are about 5 per cent with no assistance, a figure that doubles with the aid of nicotine products. The chances of quitting are increased further by the use of help-lines and other support (26 per cent), according to GSK.

30th September 2008

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