The Government made minor concessions over its ban on tobacco
advertising this week, but press and poster ads will still be outlawed
on schedule in December.
The Department of Health has announced that publications produced in
other European Union countries will be able to carry tobacco ads in
Britain until July 2002, when the EU directive takes effect across
Europe. So will in-flight magazines handed out by non-EU airlines.
Direct marketing of tobacco products, due to end in December, will now
continue until the end of existing contracts, or July next year,
whichever is the sooner.
The Government dismissed criticism of a U-turn by anti-smoking groups,
and stressed that no ads would be allowed on billboards, in UK
newspapers and magazines from December 10 as originally planned.
A Health Department spokeswoman said the changes to the proposed
timetable were ’peripheral’ and Frank Dobson, the outgoing health
secretary, said the transitional arrangements were ’a sensible
compromise between the health benefits which the ban will bring and the
legitimate concerns of industry’.
The Institute of Sales Promotions welcomed the seven-month reprieve for
direct marketing and promotions. Simon Mahoney, its chairman, said the
original December cut-off would have caused ’considerable
The tobacco industry dismissed the rethink and pressed ahead this week
with its attempt in the High Court to halt the ban. Lawyers for
Imperial, Gallaher and Rothmans accused the Government of jumping the
gun by introducing the UK ban while the directive was still under
challenge in the European Court of Justice.
Jonathan Sumption, QC, said the UK was not obliged to implement the ban
at this stage and should wait until the European Court had ruled on the
validity of the ’highly controversial’ directive.
Live Issue, p12.