NEWS: Tobacco interests unite to fight EC

The fight against a looming Europe-wide ban on tobacco advertising is being carried to the European Commission’s doorstep in Brussels.

The fight against a looming Europe-wide ban on tobacco advertising is

being carried to the European Commission’s doorstep in Brussels.



Lawyers, advertisers and agency figures are expected to come together

for a symposium in the city next summer as the proposed ban threatens to

become a cause celbre in the battle to retain freedom of commercial

speech.



The plan for the symposium - to be held under the auspices of the

European Association of Advertising Agencies - was drawn up by lawyers

advising the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and its

equivalent organisations across Europe at a meeting in Amsterdam last

week.



The lawyers, who are already planning to go to the European courts to

thwart the ban (Campaign, 20 October), say that unless the line on

tobacco advertising is held, other product sectors will also be under

threat from EU legislators.



Philip Circus, the IPA’s legal affairs director, said: ‘It’s wrong to

believe that you can put a cordon around tobacco advertising and treat

it differently from other advertising.’



The aim of the symposium is to ensure EU officials understand the

implications of advertising curbs and to pressure them to seek a

compromise on tobacco promotion rather than have to defend a ban in the

courts.



‘The EU is wrong if it thinks that a ban would end its troubles,’ Circus

said. ‘It would just be the start of them.’



Meanwhile, Circus is discussing the latest moves with tobacco

manufacturers and enlisting their support. The companies are understood

to be nervous about giving their wholehearted backing to a legal

challenge. They are anxious not to give the impression that they fear an

imminent collapse of the alliance of countries - including Britain -

which is blocking the ban.



Some executives believe the alliance could be shored up through the

possible support of Spain and Sweden. They believe this could ensure its

survival even if a Labour government committed to a tobacco ad ban is

elected.



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