Ministers will try to rush the Bill to ban tobacco advertising
through Parliament in the period of 'extra time' created by Tony Blair's
decision to delay the general election.
The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill would have failed to become
law if Blair had pressed ahead with his original plan to call an
election on 3 May. But his decision to postpone the poll until 7 June
has raised the Department of Health's hopes that the Bill will reach the
statute book by 14 May, when Parliament is expected to be dissolved.
If the plan to rescue the Bill succeeds, press and poster ads and direct
mail by tobacco companies would be outlawed about two months later.
One minister said: 'We think there is now a good chance we can get the
Bill through before the election.'
The Government will now challenge the Tories not to delay a measure
which, ministers claim, would save 3,000 lives a year.
The Bill, already approved by the Commons, was given a second reading by
the House of Lords last week and will now go into its committee stage in
the second chamber. But it will be strongly opposed by critics including
Lord Tebbit, the former Conservative Party chairman, and Lord Harris of
High Cross, the chairman of the smokers' rights group Forest.
Lord Clement-Jones, a Liberal Democrat peer, attacked agencies working
on tobacco accounts, accusing them of 'a lack of principle and sharp
practice'. He told the Lords that the Government's measure needed to be
flexible 'in order to combat the ways in which the advertising agencies
are going to change their tactics in response to the provisions in this