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The BBC's Richard Hannaford
"A key Labour manifesto commitment"
 real 28k

Monday, 22 May, 2000, 04:01 GMT 05:01 UK
Tobacco giants fight ad ban
Smoker
Ministers want a complete advertising ban
Cigarette manufacturers are renewing their fight against government plans to ban all tobacco advertising.

On Monday tobacco giants Imperial, Gallaher, Rothmans, and British American Tobacco will ask the House of Lords to reverse a Court of Appeal ruling in the government's favour.

schumacher
No smoking signs: Cigarette advertising is disappearing
The firms are already challenging the European Union's timetable for a Europe-wide ban by 2006.

They say Britain should not be allowed to bring in its own advertisement ban before that law suit is decided.

Banning smoking advertising by the year 2000 was a key manifesto commitment by the Labour Party.

Ministers said the adverts not only encouraged people to smoke - but also made it more difficult for those addicted to quit.

European timetable

The UK regulations opposed by the tobacco firms have been drawn up under the European Tobacco Advertising Directive which means member states must ensure:

  • Billboards and cigarette promotions are banned by July 2001
  • Newspapers and magazines stop carrying tobacco advertisements by July 2002
  • Sponsorship of sport must be phased out by 2003

Certain global sports like Formula One Racing have exemptions until October 2006.

The companies say that allowing the government to introduce legislation under the directive while it is still being challenged would result in injustice if they eventually won in the European court.

Criminal sanctions

They claim it imposes unlawful restrictions and criminal sanctions on the legal rights of those involved in the tobacco trade, from manufacturers down to local tobacconists.

In December, appeal judges lifted a High Court injunction which had prevented the government from introducing the regulations banning tobacco adverts.

The appeal judges decided, by a 2-1 majority, that the courts should not interfere with the government's pledge to ban tobacco advertising and sponsorship in the interests of public health.

Ministers had hoped their court victory would allow the regulations to come into force on 6 January, followed by a phased withdrawal of advertising.

But the court decided to immediately re-impose the injunction until law lords have ruled on the dispute.

The hearing is expected to take four days.

The law lords' judgement is expected to be given next month.

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See also:

10 Dec 98 | Health
Blitz on smoking
25 Nov 98 | UK Politics
Save Our Sports, say Tories
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