Are SUVs the new smoking? British environmental report hits out against gas-guzzlers
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An environmental campaign in the UK is calling for a ban on SUV advertising, claiming it will reduce the effect of climate change while making streets less congested and safer for pedestrians.
“Badvertising”, a push by the New Weather Institute and Possible, a climate charity, said advertising for large passenger vehicles and the “dirtiest third” of new cars should end.
The report suggests “parallels between smoking and advertising climate-damaging activities like driving gas-guzzlers are, if not exact, oddly close”. In the same way Phillip Morris’ “Marlboro Man” used rugged outdoor imagery to sell cigarettes more likely to be smoked in densely populated areas, Badvertising suggests four-wheel-drives sold as getaway vehicles for adventurers are more likely to be found on the school run.
Robbie Gillett, campaigner at Possible, said aggressive marketing of SUVs worked against efforts to combat climate change.
“Their misleading ads promise us freedom and escape — but the reality of urban road conditions is grinding traffic jams, toxic air pollution and spiralling carbon emissions from road transport that will trash our climate goals,” he said.
“Let’s create space to breathe and space to think — free from the advertising pressures of big polluters.”
Andrew Sims, co-director of the New Weather Institute said “promoting the biggest, worst emitting SUVs is like upselling pollution, and we need to stop”.
“In a climate emergency when we need to make the places where we live more people friendly, SUVs are in the way of progress,” he said.
Broadcast tobacco ads were banned in Australia in 1976, followed by all other tobacco advertising in 1992. Badvertising recommends a similar approach for large vehicles, particularly SUVs.
The report triggered debate in British media. Automotive industry representatives told the BBC that SUVs were more efficient than ever, and that hybrid and electric options were becoming increasingly common. A marketing expert said an advertising ban would not change buyer habits.