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Friday, 2 November, 2001, 17:20 GMT
New assault on smoking ads
A smoker lights up
A ban on smoking ads fell foul of the election
The drive to ban tobacco advertising has been taken up with a new assault in the House of Lords.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Lord Clement Jones introduced a bill to stub out the practice - a move dropped by Labour when the general election was called in May.

There are hundreds of children who did not choose to be orphaned by losing one or at worst both parents from tobacco-related disease

Lady Finlay
Senior doctors are urging peers to back the measure, which the government says it welcomes and it "will watch its progression through the House of Lords".

The Department of Health estimates such a ban would eventually led to a 2.5% cut in the number of smokers, saving possible 3,000 lives per year.

The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill, is a copy of the government proposals that passed through the Commons earlier this year before falling foul of the election announcement.

Its second reading passed on Friday - as is traditional in the Lords - but will face tougher tests when peers have the chance to propose changes to the plans.

Both the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of Physicians are backing the move.

'No youth distinction'

Opening the debate, Lord Clement Jones rejected the tobacco industry's idea to restrict any ban to advertising directed at young people as "unworkable and ill conceived".

He said: "It is quite impossible to draw a distinction between advertising that is directed at young people and advertising that is not."

The Lib Dem peer argued there was "every reason to reduce the pressure on adults", who strong evidence suggested suffered to overcome their nicotine addictions.

Cigarettes for sale
Cigarettes already carry health warnings
It was "nonsense" to allow 130m of private money to be spent every year on promoting smoking when the government was investing 13m a year on trying to achieve the opposite effect.

"A comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising is an essential public health safeguard," added Lord Clement Jones.

Crossbencher Lady Finlay of Llandaff, a cancer expert involved in the hospice movement, implored peers not to be fooled by the tobacco industry.

Her voice trembling with emotion, she urged peers to remember the hundreds of children each year who did not choose to be orphaned through tobacco-related illness.

"The cost to these tobacco orphans and to our society is inestimable," continued Lady Finlay.

Freedom risk

But Conservative peer Lord Naseby, a former advertising executive, branded a ban "draconian" and compared it to restrictions on commerce used in Nazi Germany.

"You do ask yourself the question: Do we have to keep relearning that which has been taught to us to be so adverse on freedom?"

Another Tory peer, Lord Skelmersdale, argued the bill's provisions for dealing with internet advertising were "too simplistic and indeed confusing".

'Priority item'

Former Leader of the Lords Baroness Jay of Paddington told peers the legislation was too important to be allowed to "slip down the political agenda".

The government has not reintroduced its own bill, something Conservative spokesman Earl Howe claimed was a "huge embarrassment" for ministers.

"I find it extraordinary, even knowing as I do how fierce is the competition for legislative time, that this bill should not have been regarded by ministers as being of high enough priority."

Earl Howe said the Conservatives were not looking to oppose the bill but the arguments for the ban needed to be more "robust" and "secure" if they were not win his party's wholehearted support.

Junior minister Lord Hunt backed the bill, saying a ban would benefit public health as there was clear evidence of a link between smoking and advertising.

Lord Jones, Liberal Democrat health spokesman
"Smoking in the greatest single cause of preventable illness"
Lady Finlay of Llandaff, Cancer expert
"The cost to tobacco orphans is inestimable"
See also:

30 May 01 | Health
EU steps up war on smoking
22 Sep 00 | UK Politics
How the Ecclestone affair unfolded
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