EU ad ban in trouble: UK Government must respond

Thursday 15 June 2000

102 Clifton Street,London EC2A 4HW Tel: (020) 7739 5902 Fax: (020) 7613 0531

Press Release
15th June 2000
Action on Smoking
and Health

EU advertising ban in trouble, but UK Government must respond with a Tobacco Bill through Westminster

The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice produced a legal opinion arguing that the 1998 EU Directive (98/43/EC) banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship has an inappropriate legal base under the EU Amsterdam Treaty.  The Advocate General has recommended that the ECJ annuls the directive when it decides on complaints of the German Government and tobacco industry latter this year.

Clive Bates, Director of ASH comments:

“It’s a setback and we are disappointed.  The law governing the single market is not supposed to promote trade at any cost, but with a high level of health and consumer protection.  We hope the European Court will recognise this proper interpretation of the Amsterdam Treaty Article 95.”

But ASH highlighted the likely response to an adversedecision in the ECJ.

“Despite this setback, there is a very big and bright silver lining.  Ministers will now come under intense pressure to introduce a bill through Westminster to meet Labour’s 1997 manifesto commitment to ban tobacco advertising.  If a Tobacco Bill is introduced in Westminster it will be enable the Government to close all the loopholes in the advertising ban, introduce some of the Health Select Committee recommendations and implement the tobacco product directive that went through the European Parliament yesterday”.  said Bates.

“Paradoxically, this setback in Europe could give us much tighter legislation in Britain. This will be better in the long term though we will have yet more frustrating delay and further unnecessary harm to health while sound tobacco policies are blocked with legal manoeuvring” said Bates.


  • Advocate General’s report  +352 4303 3355 for press office
  • The ECJ does not have to follow the Advocate general’s opinion, but this is likely to be influential.  The ECJ’s decision is expected in the autumn.
  • The Advocate General’s opinion will influence the House of Lords which is deciding whether to allow the UK government to introduce the first phase of the advertising ban.  The Government had proposed to do this on 10 December 1999, but was blocked by a legal challenge by the tobacco industry.  This was overturned at the Court of Appeal, but the block on the ban was kept in place pending a decision by the House of Lords. The HoL heard the case in May and a decision is awaited, but it is likely that the Lords will keep the block in place until the ECJ makes its ruling.
  • Loopholes in the advertising ban include brand-stretching, point of sale advertising, specialist shops, and the Internet.  More details at:


Contact Clive Bates, ASH (020) 7739 5902

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