NEWS: Labour plans instant tobacco ad ban

Tobacco advertising could be banned within months of the Labour Party winning the next general election, it emerged this week.

Tobacco advertising could be banned within months of the Labour Party

winning the next general election, it emerged this week.



A government bill to outlaw tobacco promotion looks certain to be

included in the programme for Tony Blair’s first year as Prime Minister.



The ban is understood to be on a list of priority measures drawn up by

Labour bosses that would be introduced swiftly by an incoming Blair

administration.



Labour leaders have rejected the idea of relying on a stalled European

Union directive to bring about a Europe-wide ban. They say there would

be no guarantee of the plan being approved if Britain dropped its

opposition because Germany and Holland are also against it.



Although Labour has long been in favour of banning tobacco ads, the

party has never set a timetable for its plans. It has now signalled, for

the first time, that legislation would be a priority in the first

session of the new Parliament, should Labour win.



Kevin Barron, a Labour frontbench spokesman on health, said: ‘I don’t

see a health issue that is more important than this. I would certainly

hope it is something we could do very early on.’



Barron was appointed as a health spokesman by Blair last autumn. Another

sign that Labour intends to move quickly on tobacco ads is the fact that

the party has given Barron responsibility for smoking issues. He tried

to outlaw tobacco promotion by bringing in a backbench bill two years

ago, but was blocked by Conservative MPs.



‘I suspect the advertising and tobacco industries would accept that, if

we win the election, they will be faced with a fait accompli and will

look elsewhere,’ he said. Barron believes that Labour will introduce a

bill ‘very similar’ to the one he proposed in 1994.



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