A good start – but could do better: ASH verdict on EU tobacco ad ban

Wednesday 30 May 2001


For Immediate release: Wednesday30 May  2001


“A good start, but could do better”: ASH’s verdicton EU Tobacco Ad-ban.


A new European Directive, which would place some restrictions on the advertising of tobacco, was given a cautious welcome today by public health groups.  The Directive was published by the European Commission this morning, and will be discussed by Ministers next month on its way to becoming EU law.[1]


Under these proposals, all press and radio advertising for tobacco will be banned, as will tobacco sponsorship for events which take place in more than one EU country.  Unfortunately, other forms of tobacco promotion such as point of sale advertising and “brand stretching”, where tobacco brands are advertised using non-tobacco products, will be unaffected by these proposals.


This new Directive replaces a 1998 directive banning all tobacco advertising in the EU, which was later successfully challenged by the tobacco industry and the German Government. [2]It will act in addition to the total or partial bans on tobacco advertising which already exist in many European countries.


Action on Smoking and Health welcomes the new directive, but regrets that it does not go further. John Connolly, Public Affairs Manager for ASH, said:


“It’s good that the EU have brought out this new directive ­ tobacco advertising gets more people smoking, and persuades smokers to keep smoking. This directive is a promising first step towards controlling advertising across the EU ­ something that individual countries can’t do on their own, and which will save lives.  It’s a shame, though, that they didn’t take this opportunity to publish something stronger.  The European Commission, quite understandably, don’t want this replacement directive to be challenged in the courts. I think, though, that they could have been a bit bolder in what has been published. We would have liked to see other measures such as a clamp-down on brand-stretching, and effective controls on point of sale advertising included. Over the years, the evidence shows that, unless a ban on advertising is total, the tobacco industry will divert all their energies into those options which are still open to them.


“ASH, along with other public health groups, will be pushing for this directive to be strengthened by the European Parliament and member states as it moves towards becoming EU law.”


Notes for Editors

[1]  The text of the draft directive, along with the European Commission’s press release, is available at http://www.europa.eu.int/rapid/start/cgi/guesten.ksh?p_action.gettxt=gt&doc=IP/01/767|0|RAPID&lg=EN

[2] The original EU Tobacco Advertising Directive was annulled by the European Court of Justice in 2000 following a successful challenge from the German Government and the tobacco industry.

[3]  European public health groups have written to European Health Ministers, proposing a text for a possible replacement directive, which would provide effective control for tobacco advertising. This suggested text would work within the ruling of the ECJ, while not creating loopholes and giving the tobacco industry easy routes to circumvent the ban. The text of this directive, along with a list of organisations which have signed up to it, is available at www.ash.org.uk/html/advspo/html/addirectivetext.html

Contact: John Connolly, 020 7739 5902 (Work) or 02077354327 (Home)