Experts Challenge Asbestos Ads Ban

Surgeons, Campaigners And Solicitors Speak Out


Shocked cancer experts are seeking to overturn a ban on adverts spotlighting the dangers of deadly asbestos dust.

The Health and Safety Executive was forced to drop the ads, which claim that "every year there are more people killed by asbestos than in road accidents".

The ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority that the number of deaths claimed by the ad must be described as an "estimate" has infuriated safety campaigners.

It also stunned consultant thoracic surgeon John Edwards, who said: "It is a fact that at least 4,000 people are dying a year from asbestos-related cancer in the UK.

"Evidence suggests that this is an underestimate, and that consequentially it is of utmost importance that we minimise future exposures to asbestos as well as identify problems in those people who have previously been exposed."

Laurie Kazan-Allen, co-ordinator of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, fears that asbestos producers will cite the ruling as "proof" that asbestos warnings have been exaggerated.

And says HSE spokesman Steve Coldrick: "This campaign is clearly in the public interest and we are now looking to seek an independent review of the adjudication.

"Our advertising is based on the same robust statistical evidence and scientific understanding that underpins government policy on asbestos."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Adrian Budgen, a Partner at Irwin Mitchell who has represented hundreds of asbestos victims over 20 years, expressed his anger at the ruling.

He said: "Safety has to come first and it's ridiculous that a single complaint over the number of victims will prevent this important safety message being broadcast again.

"The only fact that should matter is this - asbestos is the biggest occupational killer of all time and all workers should be aware of the dangers it poses.

"Nothing should stop that vital message getting out and preventing future victims falling prey to the dreadful diseases asbestos exposure can cause."