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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 16:32 GMT
Government backs tobacco ad ban
Promotion of tobacco products will be banned under the Bill
Promotion of tobacco products is set to be banned
The government is to back a bill to ban tobacco advertising.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn said tobacco advertising promoted a "deadly habit" and suggested a ban could save up to 3,000 lives a year.

Anti-smoking campaigners welcomed the government's backing for the Bill, which failed to become law in the last parliament.

The proposed legislation will ban press, billboard and internet advertising of tobacco products.

Alan Milburn: backing the Bill
Alan Milburn: backing the Bill
When the Bill becomes law, which anti-tobacco campaigners say could be as early as the summer, it will put an end to sponsorship by tobacco companies of sporting and other events.

It will stop the promotion of smoking through free distribution of tobacco products, coupons and mailshots.

There will also be restrictions on the display and promotion of tobacco products in shops laid out in the Bill.

The government estimates smoking kills over 120,000 people a year. Seventy per cent of smokers say they want to give up but that they find it very difficult because of the addictive nature of nicotine.

'Deadly habit'

The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill was introduced to Parliament as a Private Members Bill by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Clement-Jones in July 2001.

It successfully completed its Third Reading in the House of Lords on Friday.

The Bill had originally been put forward by the government in December 2000, but the legislative process was not completed because the election was called.

Alan Milburn said: "Tobacco advertising promotes a deadly habit. The brands most heavily advertised are those most heavily smoked by children.

Speed is of the essence as we have been waiting long enough to stub out the deadly marketing practices of the tobacco industry

Professor Gordon McVie, Cancer Research UK
"Research shows that an advertising ban could eventually save up to 3,000 lives a year - a 2.5% reduction in the number of deaths caused by smoking.

"A ban on tobacco advertising is a tough but proportionate response to the marketing and promotion of the only legally available product which kills one in two of its regular long-term users."

Lord Clement Jones said: "I am delighted that this essential public health measure is now closer to the statute book.

"It is vital that the government does the right thing and gives this bill the time it needs in the Commons to become law."

Professor Gordon McVie, joint director general of Cancer Research UK, said: "Today's news spells the last gasps for tobacco advertising in this country.

Ban 'counter-productive'

"Cancer Research UK's research has shown that cigarette advertising influences young people to start smoking and that is why it is essential that no more time is wasted.

"Speed is of the essence as we have been waiting long enough to stub out the deadly marketing practices of the tobacco industry."

Clive Bates from Action on Smoking and Health said the government's backing of the Bill meant it had passed an "acid test of credibility".

Tim Lord, chief executive of the Tobacco Manufacturer's Association, said: "There is no evidence that a tobacco advertising ban in the UK will work.

"In fact such a ban could well have the opposite effect to that intended. Without brand advertising to maintain market share the increased availability of cheap imports and smuggled tobacco products may well give rise to an increase in consumption."

He added: "We are not opposed to regulation of tobacco products and have co-operated with government through voluntary agreements over the last 30 years.

"During this period tobacco consumption in the UK has fallen by 37% - a higher rate than nearly all other European countries."

The BBC's Guto Harri
"The government have toyed with this for a while"
Health Minister Yvette Cooper
"We know the tobacco industry does not want this"
See also:

18 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Fresh move to ban tobacco ads
02 Nov 01 | UK Politics
New assault on smoking ads
17 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Dobson attacks over smoking bill
11 Jul 01 | Health
Tobacco ad ban attempt revived
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