Tobacco ad-ban a near-certainty this year as government backs Lords bill

Friday 15 March 2002

ASH news release:  Immediate 15 March 2002
Responding to the news this afternoon that the government is to back a Lords private members bill (Lord Tim Clement Jones, Lib Dem) banning tobacco advertising, John Connolly, Public Affairs Manager at ASH said:

“This was the crucial hurdle – if the government hadn’t backed it, we would have been back to square one next year.  Now the legislation is likely to be in place before the summer and the billboards could be coming down by the end of the year.

“It’s great news and goes a long way to restoring our confidence that the government is serious about tackling tobacco.  We can hope that the legislation will pass by the summer and tobacco advertising be banned by the end of the year.

“The extra tobacco consumption caused by tobacco advertising kills about 3,000 lives and cost the NHS about £40 million per year.  Banning tobacco advertising is one of the most elegant and cost effective ways the government has to protect public health.

“For once everyone involved emerges with great credit: the Lib-Dems for the strategy of taking it through the Lords, Labour peers for supporting its passage, health ministers and the prime Minister for giving it government time in the Commons, MPs for giving the Bill support from the Commons, and even the Opposition for recognising the importance of the measure and not using gratuitous wrecking tactics.  It is rare event and a triumph for parliament.”

“The Bill is well drafted and will pretty well eliminate all forms of tobacco advertising in Britain.  To tackle advertising that cross borders like tobacco sponsored televised sport, we will need action at the European and international level to back up what we will have here.”

Notes and links:

[1] Information on tobacco advertising and the Bill can be downloaded as a pdf here.

[2] See Department of Health press release below.


Contact: John Connolly, +44 20 7739 5902 (w)  +44 77 0281 7477 (m)

Clive Bates +44 20 7739 5902 (w)  +44 77 6879 1237 (m)


Department of Health Press Release


Friday 15th March 2002


Alan Milburn welcomes the successful progress of Lord Clement Jones’ Private Members Bill Health Secretary Alan Milburn, today announced that the Government will take the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill through the Commons. The Private Members Bill introduced by Lord Clement-Jones successfully completed its Third Reading in the House of Lords today.


The proposed legislation will ban press, billboard and internet advertising of tobacco products and will prohibit the promotion of smoking through free distribution of tobacco products, coupons and mailshots. It will place restrictions on the display and promotion of tobacco products in shops, through regulations made under the bill. The legislation will also bring an end to sponsorship by tobacco companies of sporting and other events.

Alan Milburn said:

“The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill will ensure that tobacco products are no longer promoted through advertising, sponsorship or other related schemes. The Bill will help deliver the Government’s commitment to reducing smoking-related deaths from cancer and coronary heart disease and tackling health inequalities. I am grateful to Lord Clement Jones for introducing the Bill as a Private Members Bill. He steered the Bill through the Lords with support throughout the House in a robust and effective manner. The Government thinks it is right that legislative time is being made for this Bill in the House of Commons.

“Smoking kills over 120,000 people a year. Seventy per cent of smokers say they want to give up but that they find it very difficult because of the addictive nature of nicotine. That’s why we are providing advice and support to those who want to give up smoking. But we also want to discourage people from starting to smoke. Tobacco advertising promotes a deadly habit. The brands most heavily advertised are those most heavily smoked by children. Research shows that an advertising ban could eventually save up to 3,000 lives a year – a 2.5% reduction in the number of deaths caused by smoking.

“A ban on tobacco advertising is a tough but proportionate response to the marketing and promotion of the only legally available product which kills one in two of its regular long-term users.”

Notes to Editors

1. The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill was introduced by the Government in December 2000. Legislation was not completed because the Election was called. The Government made a commitment to ban tobacco advertising and sponsorship in its 2001 Manifesto. Lord Clement-Jones introduced his Private Member’s Bill on Tobacco Advertising and Promotion on 11 July 2001.

2.The Government set out its targets for reducing smoking prevalence in the White Paper ‘Smoking Kills’ published in December 1998. These were:

* to reduce adult smoking in all social classes so that the overall rate falls from 28% to 26% by 2005 and to 24% by 2010

* to reduce smoking among children from 13% to 11% by 2005 and to 9% by 2010

* to reduce the percentage of women who smoke during pregnancy from 23% to 18% by 2005 and to 15% by 2010.

* a further target was announced in the National Cancer Plan to reduce smoking prevalence amongst manual groups from 32% to 26% by 2010.

3. The Bill to ban tobacco advertising and promotion is one part of a comprehensive package of measures to tackle smoking. It sits alongside media campaigns, the NHS Smoking Helpline (0800 169 0169) smoking cessation programmes, NRT and Zyban on prescription, making NRT available in pharmacies, as well as action to tackle smuggling.