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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Tobacco advert ban gets go-ahead
Smokers
Anti-smoking groups have long called for an ads ban
Tobacco advertising is set to be banned in Britain by the end of this year after finally getting the go-ahead from MPs.

The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill received an unopposed third reading in the House of Commons on Monday and now only needs royal assent to become law.

Health Minister Hazel Blears said advertising on billboards and in newspapers and websites would be banned by the end of the year.

The tobacco industry responded to the ban by saying they did not think it would achieve its aim of reducing spending.

Global sports, such as Formula One, will not be affected by the ban until 2006.

Ban history

The ban plans have been hit by controversy since the early months of Tony Blair's government.

Labour had to deny that a 1m donation from Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone influenced talks on whether the sport should be exempt from a European ban.

The ban legislation was later dropped when last year's general election was called.

A carbon copy of the bill was introduced by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Clement-Jones and then taken up by the government.

The government predicts the ban will save 3,000 lives a year and reduce National Health Service bills by 340m.

Ms Blears branded tobacco a "dangerous and lethal substance" that had killed possibly millions worldwide.

"These are needless deaths caused by an industry which hides the truth from consumers," said Ms Blears.

Link proven?

The minister denied the government had been slow to act on the issue, saying it had moved to ban tobacco advertising from "day one" in government.

Conservative health spokesman Tim Loughton argued a clear link between advertising and smoking numbers had not been proved.

"Nobody is disputing that smoking is harmful - it is, it's a filthy habit, we hate it, we would like it to be rather less prevalent among the population, particularly the young," he said.

Lib Dem health spokesman Evan Harris countered that there was clear evidence of a link.

"The tobacco industry and the advertising associated with it has been proven guilty," said Mr Harris.

Tim Lord, chief executive of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association said: "We have always believed that banning all forms of tobacco advertising will not achieve the Government's aim of reducing smoking.

"We are particularly disheartened that we will lose the right to talk to our adult consumers.

"Our main focus is now to co-operate with the Government and officials to ensure that the regulations governing implementation of the Bill are as practical and workable as possible, particularly from the point of view of retailers."

See also:

18 Jan 02 | Politics
02 Nov 01 | Politics
17 Jul 01 | Politics
11 Jul 01 | Health
15 Mar 02 | Health
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