Tobacco ad lobby in High Court coup

By JOHN TYLEE, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 18 December 1998 12:00AM

The Government has insisted its plans to end tobacco advertising are on course, despite an early legal victory for the British cigarette manufacturers attempting to derail them.

The Government has insisted its plans to end tobacco advertising

are on course, despite an early legal victory for the British cigarette

manufacturers attempting to derail them.



The High Court pulled the rug from under ministers’ feet on Wednesday by

questioning the legal validity of the European directive on which the

proposed ban is based and referring it to the European Court of Justice

for a ruling.



But this could take two years. The Government in the meantime faces the

prospect of outlawing advertising, only to be forced to withdraw the

curbs if the European Court declares them illegal.



The legal spanner was thrown into the works by British American Tobacco,

Gallaher, Imperial and Rothmans, which between them account for 90 per

cent of the UK’s #57.7 million tobacco adspend.



The companies won the court’s backing for each of their six challenges

to the directive, which they claim is ’seriously flawed and has no legal

basis’.



The news brought an immediate call for the Government to stay its

hand.



David Swan, the Tobacco Manufacturers Association’s chief executive,

said: ’The Government should not implement legislation founded on this

directive until the very serious question mark over its legal validity

has been decided by the European Court.’



Chris Ogden, the TMA’s executive director for trade and industry

affairs, predicted the Government would be left with ’massive egg on its

face’ if the directive was declared illegal, which could result in huge

amounts of debate and select committee time having to be allocated to

get alternative legislation through.



However, ministers want to press ahead with the pledges contained in the

white paper because they are confident the European Court will uphold

the directive’s validity.



The Department of Health admitted it was ’disappointed’ with the High

Court ruling. But a spokesman insisted: ’This does not affect our

ability to implement the directive or our timetable. We will go on with

it.’



Live Issue, p12.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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