Tobacco Advertising ban U-turn: ASH & senior Labour MP join to condemn Government decision

Wednesday 20 June 2001


Immediate: Wednesday 20 June 2001


Tobaccoad-ban U-turn: ASH and senior MP join to condemn Government’s decision


A senior Labour MP today joined ASH and other health groups in condemning the Government’s decision to delay the Bill to ban tobacco advertising. ASH described this as ‘negligent and hypocritical backsliding’, which will mean thousands more deaths and more time for tobacco companies to hook kids on their deadly product.  In January this year, Ministers were stressing the importance and urgency of the legislation, which they argued would reduce cancer and heart disease, and protect young people. [1]


David Hinchliffe MP, Chair of the influential House of Commons Select Committee on Health, and a former front-bench spokesman, criticised the decision not to re-introduce a bill banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship. The legislation was a key recommendation of his committee’s report into the tobacco industry last year,and was a Labour manifesto commitment in both 1997 and 2001. Not being in today’s Queen’s Speech means that a tobacco ad-ban will now be delayed for at least 18 months, which will mean at least 4,500 unnecessary deaths (based on the government’s own estimate that banning tobacco advertising will save 3,000 lives per year).  Mr Hinchliffe said


“I am shocked and disappointed that, after what Ministers have said about the importance of this legislation, it is now being shelved. Six months ago, Alan Milburn told the House of Commons that smoking is the biggest public health problem faced by the country, and that it was essential to get this law on the statute books. Now it seems that the Government has changed their mind and it can wait a while. With luck, when Ministers see the strength of feeling on this issue, they will change their minds and bring back this Bill.


John Connolly, Public Affairs Manager at ASH, said:


“By their own figures, a ban on tobacco advertising will save 3000 lives a year in the long run. Ministers say that the Bill was dropped because other areas have higher priority, but it’s difficult to think of any other legislation that will save so many lives, cost virtually nothing and has already been through the House of Commons. The ban on tobacco advertising has been promised since 1997 but the longer the delay goes on, the more we fear they may be about to give up on tackling the dreadful toll of death and disease caused by tobacco.  There’s no point in pumping cash into the NHS if you allow tobacco companies to fill the cancer and cardiac wards by promoting their deadly product.


Notes to Editors:

[1] A list of the statements made by Ministers about the importance of a Bill to ban tobacco advertising is available at

[2] The full text of the House of Commons Health Select Committee report into the Tobacco industry is available at:


Contacts: John Connolly, ASH   020 7739 5902 (office)  or 07702 817477 (mobile)

Clive Bates,  ASH.   020 7739 5902  or 0776879 1237 (mobile) ISDN available

David Hinchliffe MP 07831 288944 (Mobile) or 020 72194447 (House of Commons)