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BBC News' Fergus Walsh
"Today the Court of Appeal backed the government"
 real 28k

The BBC's Karen Allen
"The government has won its appeal"
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Thursday, 16 December, 1999, 19:32 GMT
Tobacco ad ban legal, says court

The government says the ban is in the national interest

The UK Government's planned tobacco advertising ban is legal, a court has ruled.

But the legal injunction holding up the ban was immediately re-imposed as the tobacco industry announced a further application to the House of Lords.

This latest stage may not take place until February, although both sides are pushing for a quick result.

It was, however, hailed as a "victory for public health" by Health Secretary Alan Milburn.

We're fighting it in Europe, although obviously we are hopeful of winning at the House of Lords
John Carlisle, Tobacco Manufacturers' Association
Ministers originally planned to outlaw advertising of cigarettes on billboards and in cinemas, newspapers and magazines from 10 December, but the tobacco industry obtained an injunction which delayed the ban.

At the Court of Appeal, the government argued that the ban was in the national interest and in accordance with manifesto pledges.

Judges agreed the ban was legal.

Ministers had hoped this court victory would allow regulations to come into force on January 6, but the four tobacco companies that had won the original injunction were granted a "stay" keeping the block in place pending an application to the law lords for leave to appeal.

The manufacturers had argued that the government was moving too fast by introducing a ban before their own legal challenge could be heard.

Industry is confident

The Tobacco Manufacturer's Association is confident that, even if an appeal to the House of Lords is unsuccessful, it can successfully challenge the EU directive on which the ban is based.

This would force the government to either abandon the idea, or introduce a brand new Bill to carry it out.

John Carlisle, its spokesman, said: "We think we have got a very strong case. We're fighting it in Europe, although obviously we are hopeful of winning at the House of Lords."

A spokesman for the British Medical Association said there was 'delight' that the court had upheld the ban.

She added: "I think it's evidence of the desperate thrashing about of the tobacco industry, determined to hang on to its market, that it will pursue any avenue it can to stop this."

However, Clive Bates, director of the anti-smoking charity ASH, said it was a "foregone conclusion" that tobacco advertising would be eventually banned.

He said: "The government has made a commitment to banning it, and if they can't do it with these regulations, they will bring in primary legislation to do it."

Dr John Toy, from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, said: "We're delighted that the Appeal Court has seen sense and thrown out the ruling blocking the tobacco advertising ban, however, we are dismayed to hear that the tobacco companies are again appealing against this decision which will further delay the implementation of the ban."

Health drive

Curbing smoking is a key part of the government's strategy to improve public health by the year 2010.

Their targets are to cut deaths from certain forms of cancer, including lung cancer, by a third, and cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, by two fifths.

Alan Milburn, Secretary of State for Health said after the ruling: "This is a victory for public health. Banning tobacco advertising is widely supported both by the public and by the medical profession. Now we have the backing of the courts.

And smoking costs the NHS millions each year in terms of money spent treating cancers and heart disease.

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See also:
29 Oct 99 |  Health
Tobacco ad ban setback
11 Oct 99 |  Health
Fury at tobacco ban delay
17 Jun 99 |  Health
UK stubs out tobacco ads

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