DoH sets out timetable for UK tobacco ad ban

Press, poster and internet advertising for tobacco will become illegal on 14 February next year, the Government has decided.

The move closes the advertising category that over the years has yielded some of the best advertising of all time including Collett Dickenson Pearce's Hamlet and Benson & Hedges work, as well as that for Silk Cut by Saatchi & Saatchi.

The Department of Health has issued commencement orders setting out the timetable under which it will implement the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002.

The tobacco industry does not expect problems in meeting the deadline, saying it had mainly entered short-term contracts for posters because it knew the ban was imminent.

The health secretary, Alan Milburn, told the Commons on Tuesday: "From next spring, all tobacco advertising on hoardings and in the media will be banned. We know that tobacco advertising is the recruiting sergeant in particular for young people to start this habit."

Under the Government's orders, direct marketing will be outlawed on 14 May and brandsharing from next June. Sponsorship of national events by tobacco companies will end next July but global events can be sponsored until October 2006.

The Tobacco Manufacturers Association attacked the Government for going much further than the European Union directive approved this week, which will curb tobacco promotion throughout the 15 nations from 2005.

Tim Lord, the association's chief executive, said the Act was "more Draconian" than the EU directive. For example, posters and brandsharing would be allowed to continue under the EU law and he said it was unclear whether direct marketing would be halted.

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