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British Royals Pull Tobacco Seal

February 8, 1999

LONDON (AP) _ Britain’s royal family has withdrawn its prestigious seal of approval for the tobacco company that makes Benson and Hedges cigarettes, Buckingham Palace said Sunday.

The move, hailed by anti-smoking groups, was the most public sign yet of royal opposition to tobacco.

A palace spokesman said Gallaher Ltd. has until the end of the year to remove from all its packaging Queen Elizabeth II’s coat-of-arms, the symbol that signifies a royal warrant, or seal of approval.

Gallaher has held a royal warrant for 122 years, through generations when smoking was more fashionable.

The queen’s father, King George VI, was a smoker and died of lung cancer in 1952.

It is not known whether the queen has ever smoked. But her heir, Prince Charles, strongly disapproves of smoking. According to news reports, he recently persuaded his longtime love, Camilla Parker Bowles, to quit.

Royal warrants are granted initially for 10 years to goods supplied for at least three years to royal households. The warrants are reviewed each December by a body of royal officials.

The Gallaher warrant was withdrawn at the committee’s last meeting.

``The granting of the royal warrant is a matter for the royal household,″ Gallaher said in a statement Sunday. ``Beyond that, we do not wish to comment.″

The palace spokesman said warrants are rescinded if the product is no longer supplied.

Holders of royal warrants include Kellogg’s breakfast cereals, Quaker Oats, jam makers and jewelers.

``It’s an important symbolic breakthrough,″ said Clive Bates, director of Action on Smoking and Health.

``Perhaps they have been a little embarrassed by endorsing cigarettes,″ he said.

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