Media wealth warning: cigarette advertising could be axed by the
end of February.
The tale of the tobacco advertising ban - which could cost media sales
jobs if it is implemented - took another turn last week when the Appeal
Court backed the Government, overturning a High Court injunction that
had blocked the proposed ban.
The Government, which initiated plans for the ban more than a year ago,
had intended the ban to be implemented across the UK on 12 December
1999, but met stiff resistance from the tobacco manufacturers.
They insist that the Government should wait for the outcome of a
European Court hearing that will decide whether the EU directive that
brought in the ban is lawful. The tobacco companies argue that rushing
through a UK ban prior to this hearing could be very damaging. ’They
believe it could cost jobs in the sales promotion and media sales
houses,’ said Andrew Brown, director general of the Advertising
Based on this argument, the tobacco manufacturers persuaded the High
Court to put an injunction on the ban.
The Government appealed against that injunction, and won its appeal last
However, in another legal twist, the tobacco manufacturers have now
appealed to the House of Lords to hear the case. If the Lords refuse the
hearing, the Government will be able to implement the ban, a process
that would take around three weeks.
As the Lords will make their decision at the end of the month, a ban
could therefore be in place by the end of February.
’It is hard to say exactly what effect a February ban would have,’ said
Brown. ’Everyone has been trying to rely less on tobacco advertising,
but it still provides a lot of revenue. It is also awkward as far as ad
schedules are concerned. If you’re a newspaper you can probably continue
booking ads for now, but as a monthly magazine or a poster contractor,
it is more awkward as you are likely to be already scheduling in the ads
for March and April.’
The Lords may, however, decide to hear the appeal - especially as the
Appeal Court’s decision was not unanimous. If they do, it will be at
least April or even May before any decision is made about whether the
ban is lawful. That would mean that the actual implementation of the ban
is delayed too.