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Elizabeth Quigley reports
"This move follows the absence of a UK bill in last week's Queen's Speech"
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Tuesday, 26 June, 2001, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Tobacco ad ban urged
Tobacco ad
The Scottish Executive could ban bill poster tobacco ads
A bid to convince Scottish ministers to introduce a ban on tobacco adverts north of the Border has been launched.

The move comes in the form of a Members' Bill sponsored by Scottish National Party health spokeswoman Nicola Sturgeon.

She has pledged to consult with all interested parties over the precise terms of the proposal, which was lodged on Tuesday.

The MSP's move is in part a response to the absence of a UK tobacco ban Bill in last week's Queen's Speech.

I am firmly of the view that not being able to do everything is no excuse for doing nothing

Nicola Sturgeon, MSP
Ms Sturgeon said: "The unanimous support of the parliament for a ban was expressed in January, when we agreed that the UK Bill on Tobacco Advertising and Sponsorship should apply in Scotland.

"That bill fell because of the general election, and it is clear from the Queen's Speech that there is no intention to reintroduce it in the foreseeable future."

She added: "There are things we can do in Scotland without having to wait for the rest of the United Kingdom.

"We can, for example, ban billboard advertising, we can ban point of sale advertising and I am firmly of the view that not being able to do everything is no excuse for doing nothing."

Ms Sturgeon is seeking a meeting with Health Minister Susan Deacon and Deputy Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm in an attempt to persuade them to bring forward legislation.

paper smoking ad
There would be no jurisdiction over newspaper ads
She said smoking caused 13,500 deaths in Scotland annually and research showed that banning tobacco advertising would save more than 300 lives every year.

BMA Scotland agrees with the move and is encouraging the Scottish Executive to go it alone.

During last week's question time in the Scottish Parliament, First Minister Henry McLeish said Labour was still committed to legislating at UK level, and the legislation was still intended within the lifetime of the present Westminster parliament.

But he ruled out early moves to legislate in Scotland, saying there were strong arguments for a UK-wide ban.

Ms Sturgeon's Members' Bill needs the support of 11 MSPs within a month before it can be passed to Presiding Officer David Steel to see whether it falls under the legal powers of the parliament.

Bigger warnings

If it does, she can go ahead and introduce the Bill, which would be allocated to a parliamentary committee to scrutinise.

Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore insisted a tobacco ad ban had to be UK-wide.

He said: "A ban on tobacco advertising would be welcomed by the Liberal Democrats but this has to be a Westminster issue because legislation would have to cover the whole of the UK.

"There is strong evidence from other countries that reducing tobacco advertising reduces smoking rates.

"In the European Parliament we argued for bigger warning signs on packets of cigarettes and at Westminster we will continue to demand that the Labour government keep their promise to ban tobacco advertising."

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See also:

30 Apr 01 | Health
Anger over anti-tobacco treaty
26 Apr 01 | Americas
US may abandon tobacco lawsuit
11 Sep 00 | Health
Smoking addiction 'sets in early'
02 Aug 00 | Health
A global smoking battle
14 Jun 00 | Health
Europe's smoking shock tactics
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