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Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 00:02 GMT 01:02 UK
Tobacco ad ban attempt revived
Tobacco advert
Many health campaigners want tobacco adverts banned
The Liberal Democrats are making an attempt to revive a failed government Bill that would ban tobacco advertising.

The Bill ran out of time in the last parliament and no plans to re-introduce it were contained in the recent Queen's Speech, which set out the government's programme for this session.


The government is retreating instead of championing public health

Dr Evan Harris
Health campaigners reacted furiously to the omission, claiming a ban on tobacco advertising was needed to save 3,000 lives a year.

The Lib Dems say it could have been saved if ministers had compromised and accepted a Tory amendment introducing a "sunset clause" which would require it to be passed again in a set number of years.

The Liberal Democrat health spokesman in the Lords, Lord Clement-Jones, will re-introduce the Bill as a Private Members' Bill in the Upper House on Wednesday.

He said the ban would represent a vital improvement to public health.

Lord Clement-Jones said he had no idea whether the government would throw its weight behind the Bill.

Retreating

"They will have to take a view when it gets a second reading in October," he said.

"It is exactly the same as their Bill, there is not a comma's difference and I have done that deliberately because I thought there were areas where they could tighten up."

Lib Dem health spokesman Dr Evan Harris said the government had "lost its nerve" over the Bill.

"The government is retreating instead of championing public health," he said.

"This was a serious omission from the Queen's Speech. It is not a `take it or leave it' issue. Labour evidently remains as unambitious and cautious as ever.

Retreating

"Liberal Democrats do not intend to let the government off the hook on this matter."

A Department of Health spokesman signalled that the government would welcome the chance to make the Bill law.

He said: "We can't comment in detail until we have seen the Private Members Bill.

"However, the government is committed to reintroducing the Tobacco Bill, it is a manifesto commitment.

"The Leader of the House and the prime minister both said they will look for opportunities in this Parliamentary session to introduce the Bill at the earliest date.

"We welcome support for the Tobacco Bill, including from peers of all political parties."

Sir Paul Nurse, of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, said: "A Bill to ban tobacco advertising is urgently needed.

"By the government¿s own figures, we know that it is likely to save around 3,000 lives each year.

"The longer they delay in getting this ban on the statute books, the more lives will be put at risk."

Sir Paul said the Bill would particularly help with teenage smoking rates as studies show that young people smoke the most heavily advertised brands.

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See also:

 | UK Politics
What the Queen didn't say
05 Oct 00 | Health
European tobacco ban overturned
14 Mar 01 | Health
NHS boost for nicotine patches
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