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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 14:39 GMT
Countdown to tobacco ad ban
Ministesrs Hazel Blears and Alan Milburn
Ministers tore down an ad to mark the law change
Tobacco advertising is to be stubbed out across the UK.

The government's long-awaited Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act comes into effect on Friday 14 February.

The Act outlaws ads in magazines, newspapers and on billboards.

Advertising works; smoking kills. Today, we are breaking the link between the two

Alan Milburn
Health Secretary
A ban on direct marketing and in-pack promotion schemes comes into effect on 14 May.

Tobacco sponsorship of Formula 1 racing and other "global sporting events" has been delayed until 2006.

Save lives

Ministers say the advertising ban will help to save thousands of lives.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn said: "Advertising works; smoking kills. Today, we are breaking the link between the two.

Open in new window : In pictures
Goodbye tobacco ads

"With this ban in place we can continue our efforts to reduce the number of people who smoke and who take up smoking every year. By doing so, we will be saving lives."

Earlier, Mr Milburn and Public Health Minister Hazel Blears pulled down a 48 sheet tobacco billboard advert in Lambeth, south London, to mark the law change.

Charities have warmly welcomed the change in the law.

Sir Paul Nurse, chief executive of Cancer Research UK said: "Our research has shown that tobacco advertising discourages existing smokers from trying to quit, and it encourages new smokers to take up the habit.

"At present 450 British children start smoking every day. We expect to see this figure drop as a result of this life-saving legislation, and congratulate the government on a victory for public health."

Professor Sir Charles George, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "One in five deaths from coronary heart disease is related to smoking therefore we welcome the new government legislation banning smoking advertising.

Benson & Hedges Advert
Some 1.6m people saw a tobacco billboard last year
"The ban will take much of the glamour out of smoking, discouraging young people from starting this killer habit and making it easier for those who wish to quit."

Dame Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, added: "I sincerely hope that this ban will help stop 120,000 smoking-related deaths each year."

Sir Alexander Macara, chairman of the National Heart Forum, said: "Removing advertisements from the high street, magazines and newspapers, together with the bold new health warnings on cigarette packets are especially important measures to protect children from the glamorisation of smoking."

The anti-smoking group ASH warned ministers to ensure the tobacco industry did not take advantage of loopholes in the legislation.

Its director, Clive Bates said: "The tobacco companies will respond by switching tobacco brands onto non-tobacco products like clothing, accessories or action holidays and the measures to deal with that are weak and delayed for two years."

But Tim Lord of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association said: "We will work within the constraints of the legislation as defined by government."

Further action

The British Medical Association urged ministers to go further and to ban smoking in public places.

"The next step must be a complete ban on smoking in public places because passive smoking kills at least 1,000 non-smokers every year," said Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of science and ethics.

But Simon Clark, director of the smokers' pressure group Forest, described the move as a "pointless political gesture that will have very little effect".

He added: "The idea that people start smoking because of advertising, or are unaware of the health risks, is nonsense.

"What motivates young people to start smoking is peer pressure, not advertising. Common sense suggests that the more smoking is attacked by politicians the more attractive it becomes."

The BBC's Niall Dickson
"450 children start smoking everyday in Britain"
Simon King, brand consultant with Incline
"We've seen the end of advertising for tobacco but certainly not the end of promotion of tobacco"
See also:

22 Aug 02 | Health
02 Dec 02 | Europe
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