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
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.