German legal move threatens EU’s plan to ban tobacco ads

Europe-wide moves to ban tobacco advertising could be thrown into chaos if a major legal challenge to them is successful.

Europe-wide moves to ban tobacco advertising could be thrown into

chaos if a major legal challenge to them is successful.



As the European Court of Justice began hearings in Luxembourg this

Wednesday into a claim that the European Union’s proposed ban is

illegal, the UK Government faces the massive embarrassment of having to

redraft its legislation should the judges’ ruling go the wrong way.



But if they reject the German government’s complaint that the EU’s

Tobacco Advertising Directive is unlawful, industry lobbyists fear the

EU will have carte-blanche to ban the advertising of almost any product

it wishes.



Lionel Stanbrook, the Advertising Association’s deputy director-general,

said: ’Such a privilege should not be in its hands.’



Germany claims the directive is invalid because it was adopted as a

single-market measure needing only the support of the majority of

members to become EU law.



German ministers argue that the directive is a public health measure

which can only be introduced across the EU after a unanimous vote by all

its members.



Industry pressure groups have long claimed that, in its haste to reduce

the number of smoking-related deaths throughout the Continent, the EU

has acted illegally.



Stanbrook said: ’Germany is insisting that the EU plays by the rules.

But, if the EU gets away with it, a precedent will be set that will have

untold consequences.’



The European Court is due to rule in the autumn on the validity of the

EU ban, which is due to be phased in from the end of July next year.



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