The advertising and tobacco industries won a surprise but temporary
reprieve this week as the Government delayed plans to outlaw tobacco
Labour ministers dropped their pre-election plans for an immediate
crackdown in an attempt to make legislation so watertight that the best
brains in both industries will not be able to get around a ban.
While confirming that tobacco sponsorship would also be outlawed
(Campaign, 28 February), ministers admitted that they needed more time
to work out how to axe the pounds 8 million a year that the tobacco
industry pumps into sport, without putting key events at risk.
The Queen’s Speech on Wednesday, which set out Labour’s programme for a
parliamentary session lasting until November next year, promised only a
White Paper and a draft bill on how the ban would be implemented.
Although ministers said it was possible the measure might be brought
forward to late in the first session, they conceded this was unlikely
because of a crowded legislative timetable.
However, a bill would be given priority in the second year of Tony
Blair’s administration, spelling the end of the pounds 50 million-a-year
tobacco ad market by summer 1999. The delay will give the advertising
and tobacco industries more time to lobby against the crackdown and plan
a shift into direct marketing.
But the Government moved quickly to dash any hopes that its measure
might be watered down. The public health minister, Tessa Jowell, said:
’The Government remains fully committed to a ban on tobacco
The White Paper, to be drawn up on the advice of international experts,
will set out a wide-ranging plan to reduce smoking. One option would be
to boost the Government’s pounds 4 million-a-year anti-smoking
campaigns, currently split between Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO (adults) and
Brewer Blackler (teenagers).
Jowell admitted the Government’s plan raised ’complex issues’ including
sports sponsorship. ’We need to look carefully at how we remove tobacco
from sporting events without jeopordising the future of particular
sports in the UK,’ she said.