Government battles to keep EU tobacco ad ban on the rails

Britain was trying desperately this week to prevent the collapse of the European Union’s move to ban tobacco advertising following the Government’s decision to exempt Formula One racing.

Britain was trying desperately this week to prevent the collapse of

the European Union’s move to ban tobacco advertising following the

Government’s decision to exempt Formula One racing.



Brussels officials have threatened to withdraw the delayed EU directive

which, they claim, has been undermined by Britain’s decision to allow

tobacco firms to continue to sponsor Formula One.



British officials travelled to Brussels this Wednesday to get the

directive back on track ahead of an EU health ministers’ meeting on 4

December.



If no agreement is reached, the British Government would have to

introduce detailed legislation to implement a ban rather than ask

Parliament to rubber stamp the EU crackdown.



Padraig Flynn, EU Social Affairs Commissioner, has written to Tessa

Jowell, the Public Health Minister at the centre of the row, warning

Britain’s decision could spell the end of the EU plan. ’We cannot

continue indefinitely to maintain a proposal that has little prospect of

adoption,’ he said.



Flynn said an exemption for a single sport was irrational. He believed

Formula One was ’bluffing’ by warning that the sport could move to the

Far East if tobacco funding ended - the threat that persuaded Tony Blair

to overrule Jowell and order the Government’s U-turn.



The EU commissioner insisted only one other country, Germany, backed

Britain’s move, although Whitehall officials claimed the support of

Portugal and Austria.



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