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
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