The Government has launched a new attempt to ban tobacco
advertising by throwing its weight behind a backbench bill introduced by
the Liberal Democrats.
The unusual step comes after the prospects of the Government bringing in
its own legislation in the current Parliamentary session have
Although Tony Blair had promised MPs that he would try to find time for
such a measure, the Parliamentary timetable has become crowded because
of the Government's decision to pass new anti-terrorism laws following
the 11 September attacks in America.
Normally, private members bills introduced in the House of Lords stand
little chance of becoming law. But ministers have pledged to give a
"fair wind" to a bill to outlaw all tobacco promotion brought in by the
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Clement-Jones. It is identical to the bill
introduced by the Government in the last Parliamentary term, which was
scuppered by the general election.
Lord Hunt, the junior health minister, said: "The fact that the bill
replicates the words of the Government bill that was introduced in the
previous Parliament means we support its aims and principles, and we
wish it well."
The bill won a second reading in the House of Lords last Friday, when
most peers who spoke gave it a warm welcome. However, opponents who
frustrated the passage of the Government's measure warned that they
would table amendments, a move that could block its progress.
Lord Clement-Jones attacked agencies with tobacco accounts, saying they
"have connived in promoting tobacco consumption, have shamelessly
exploited smoking as an aspirational pursuit in ways that inevitably
make it more attractive to children and have attempted to use their
creative talents to undermine government policy and evade
He said that a ban would save 3,000 lives a year and would have to
extend to cover all media to prevent promotional budgets from being
shifted into other areas.
Lord Clement-Jones will come under pressure during the bill's passage to
include a "sunset clause" under which the ban would be reviewed after a
few years to see if it had reduced smoking.