NEWS: Tobacco ads face new threat from EU

The European ad industry has been put on alert by new threats of restrictions on the advertising and marketing of cigarettes and alcohol.

The European ad industry has been put on alert by new threats of

restrictions on the advertising and marketing of cigarettes and alcohol.



The siren was sounded with news that European Union health ministers

will this month discuss proposals to ban tobacco advertising in

publications that circulate in more than one member state and to limit

in-store displays to the packs themselves.



There is also growing alarm that a meeting of the European arm of the

World Health Organisation in December will try to get France’s draconian

curbs on alcohol advertising extended across the Continent.



To combat the threats, Britain’s Advertising Association has begun

urgent talks with its members on the issue, and is urging the Department

of Health to stress to WHO officials that an ad ban would not reduce

alcohol abuse.



At the same time, the Amsterdam Group, a lobbying organisation made up

of 14 of Europe’s largest wine and spirit manufacturers, plans to put

pressure on the WHO.



Richard Owen, chairman of the group’s working committee, said: ‘This

issue is going to the top of our agenda.’



The new proposals on tobacco advertising come from Spain - currently

holder of the EU presidency - which wants to break the existing

stalemate on the issue, in which a draft directive banning almost all

tobacco advertising has been blocked by the UK, Holland and Germany.



Since the stalemate was reached, two new hardliners against smoking,

Finland and Sweden, have joined the EU.



Lionel Stanbrook, the AA’s director of political affairs, said: ‘We see

nothing in these proposals worth supporting. They are bound to cause

extra difficulties because media buying is a cross-border activity.’



The WHO is looking for a restriction on alcohol marketing across Europe

to cut consumption by 25 per cent.



Live Issue, page 13



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