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The BBC's Janet Barrie in Brussels
"One in three Europeans smoke compared to just one in five Americans"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
EU steps up war on smoking
young smoker
The Commission wants to stop young people smoking
Europe has renewed its battle against smoking with tough new proposals to ban tobacco advertising.

The European Commission has put forward new legislation which would stop cigarette adverts in newspapers, magazines, on the radio and internet.

The move comes just weeks after the European Parliament voted for a law to print large and gruesome health warnings on cigarette packets.

A previous EU law banning advertising was overturned after the tobacco industry challenged it in the European Court of Justice.

Early starters

The proposed restrictions would also ban tobacco sponsorship of sports events.

Formula one
Cigarette ads would be banned from international sports events
Commissioner for Health David Byrne said the advert ban aimed to reduce the number of smokers in EU countries and particularly to prevent young people from taking up the habit.

"Tobacco is a highly addictive product and over 80% of smokers begin before the age of 18 years," he said.

One in three adults in the 15 EU member states is a smoker, against one in five in the United States.

Smoking kills over 500,000 EU citizens every year.

Immune from challenge

"The correlation between tobacco advertising and consumption is significant," Mr Byrne said. "It tends to produce an image of acceptability and good living."

Although most EU states have their own restrictions on advertising and TV adverts are banned across the union, tobacco advertising makes up 3% of the EU's advertising trade.

Mr Byrne said that the proposals were designed to be immune from the kind of court challenge launched last year by the tobacco industry.

He said he hoped they would be in force by 2004.

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See also:

15 May 01 | Health
Europe strikes at smoking
06 Dec 00 | Health
Tobacco ad ban back on agenda
14 Jun 00 | Health
Tobacco industry under attack
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