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Smoke warning ads shelved

11th December 2006

21092006_smoker1.jpgThe Department of Health has pulled two adverts warning that cigarette smoke contains the radioactive substance, polonium 210, which was responsible for the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.

The government has said it is "inappropriate" to show the adverts, which warn that cigarettes contain polonium 210. A Department of Health spokesperson said that when it had been confirmed that Mr Litvinenko had died from polonium 210 poisoning, they decided to withdraw two of the adverts in their campaign which contained references to polonium in cigarettes. The decision was taken with Cancer Research UK who is backing the adverts. However, information about the presence of polonium in cigarettes remains on the campaign website.

The remaining three adverts in the hard-hitting campaign are to go ahead. The ‘Smoke is Poison’ initiative involves a series of radio and television adverts fronted by investigative journalist Donal MacIntyre. The ads show him interviewing someone who has been exposed to a dangerous substance and then revealing that the same substance is found in cigarettes. Dangerous chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzene are exposed as being present in cigarettes. It is hoped the campaign will shock people into quitting smoking.

Experts are continuing to test those who came into had contact with Mr Litvinenko to see if they have been contaminated with the radioactive substance.

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