Tobacco ads gain one-year reprieve

The advertising and tobacco industries won a surprise but temporary reprieve this week as the Government delayed plans to outlaw tobacco promotion.

The advertising and tobacco industries won a surprise but temporary

reprieve this week as the Government delayed plans to outlaw tobacco

promotion.



Labour ministers dropped their pre-election plans for an immediate

crackdown in an attempt to make legislation so watertight that the best

brains in both industries will not be able to get around a ban.



While confirming that tobacco sponsorship would also be outlawed

(Campaign, 28 February), ministers admitted that they needed more time

to work out how to axe the pounds 8 million a year that the tobacco

industry pumps into sport, without putting key events at risk.



The Queen’s Speech on Wednesday, which set out Labour’s programme for a

parliamentary session lasting until November next year, promised only a

White Paper and a draft bill on how the ban would be implemented.



Although ministers said it was possible the measure might be brought

forward to late in the first session, they conceded this was unlikely

because of a crowded legislative timetable.



However, a bill would be given priority in the second year of Tony

Blair’s administration, spelling the end of the pounds 50 million-a-year

tobacco ad market by summer 1999. The delay will give the advertising

and tobacco industries more time to lobby against the crackdown and plan

a shift into direct marketing.



But the Government moved quickly to dash any hopes that its measure

might be watered down. The public health minister, Tessa Jowell, said:

’The Government remains fully committed to a ban on tobacco

advertising.’



The White Paper, to be drawn up on the advice of international experts,

will set out a wide-ranging plan to reduce smoking. One option would be

to boost the Government’s pounds 4 million-a-year anti-smoking

campaigns, currently split between Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO (adults) and

Brewer Blackler (teenagers).



Jowell admitted the Government’s plan raised ’complex issues’ including

sports sponsorship. ’We need to look carefully at how we remove tobacco

from sporting events without jeopordising the future of particular

sports in the UK,’ she said.



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