EU seeks wider anti-tobacco ad laws

The European Commission is pushing for further restrictions on tobacco promotion, raising fears among industry lobbyists that legislators want to trap other smoking-related products within the ban.

The worries have been sparked by an EC proposal to control the use of tobacco brand names on items such as ashtrays and umbrellas and even a ban on the sale of cigarettes in packs of ten.

The plans are to be discussed at a meeting between senior executives of the Advertising Association and the Tobacco Manufacturers Association.

Andrew Brown, the AA's director-general, described them as "completely bizarre".

Some lobbyists claim the further restrictions are evidence of a growing belief among Commission members that an ad ban will be insufficiently effective in reducing tobacco consumption.

"The ad ban is coming and we accept that, Lionel Stanbrook, an expert on European Union advertising legislation, said. "But it seems the EU is now intent on stopping all forms of communication about tobacco."

The AA is concerned the latest move will just increase the number of anomalies within the anti-tobacco legislation, and that it could be a precursor to moves to restrict the promotion of items such as pipes, lighters and matches.

There is already confusion over cigarette papers. They will not be included in the UK tobacco ad ban beginning later this year, but the Government has recommended the EC should consider banning their promotion.

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