Tobacco ad ban: industry tactics will be thwarted, but delays cost lives

Thursday 05 October 2000

Press release Embargo: 4th October 2000 immediate


Tobacco advertising ban: industry wrecking tactics will bethwarted but more lives will be lost through delays


In the light of an expected setback on banning tobacco advertising in the European Court of Justice, ASH called on the government and European Union to continue to legislate to ban tobacco advertising and use the opportunity to tighten the ban and remove loopholes introduced by opponents of the ban during the negotiations.  The UK government has already stated that it is preparing legislation, which it will take through Westminster before the next election to secure the 1997 manifesto commitment to ban tobacco advertising.


The main loopholes relate to advertising in shops, specialist tobacco outlets and’brand-stretching’ – the advertising of non-tobacco products like boots, clothes or holidays, with tobacco brands.


Clive Bates, Director of ASH said:


“There is definitely a silver lining because the government can now redraft the advertising ban to close the various loopholes and remove the unnecessary Formula One compromise.  We should end up with a tighter tobacco advertising ban in Britain and this will be no more than the tobacco companies deserve.”


ASH warned there would be a price for further delay – eight unnecessary deaths per day of delay.  The effect on consumption of tobacco caused by an advertising ban would be a few percent reduction – the government assumes 2.5 percent, but the death from tobacco is so large that this would reduce the tobacco related death toll by 3,000 according to the government.


“People sometimes forget that lives are lost through tobacco advertising. It encourages adults to continue smoking and helps persuade kids to start. Through a chain of addiction and then disease tobacco advertising ultimately kills people.


But ASH warned that the big problem remained those parts of Europe that don’t have advertising legislation in place – including East European states hoping to join the EU.  The EU advertising ban would have covered 450 million people.


“We hope that the European Commission will study the ruling and have a revised proposal on the table before Christmas.  We genuinely need European legislation in this area – there are over half a million tobacco deaths in the EU and this is one measure that would help,” said Bates.


ASH expects the EU advertising directive to be annulled by the European Court of Justice on technical legal grounds related to the powers granted to the EU of the Treaties of the European Union.

“If it means they have to fix the Treaty so that it gives the powers to protect health and consumers as well as promoting free trade, then that should be high on the agenda for the member states,” said Bates.


ASH Contacts: Clive Bates / Amanda Sandford

+44 (0)20 77395902 (w) +44 (0)468 791 237 (m) +44(0)20 8800 1336 (h)

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