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Monday, 16 July, 2001, 18:06 GMT 19:06 UK
Tobacco ad ban pressure mounts
Scottish Parliament smoker
MSPs are being urged to support a ban
Health professionals, anti-smoking groups and cancer charities have stepped up their campaign for a ban on tobacco advertising.

The alliance is calling on the Scottish Parliament to lead the way and bring forward legislation for a blanket ban.

The call comes after pledges from the government and Scottish Executive to outlaw tobacco advertising slipped down the legislative agenda.

Smoking is one of the main causes of cancer in Scotland, contributing to the deaths of 13,000 people each year.

Cancer affects almost every family in Scotland and smoking is the number one cause of cancer

Lorraine Alstead, Macmillan Cancer Relief
Health professionals from the Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh met for over an hour on Monday at the British Medical Association's headquarters in Edinburgh.

They were joined by representatives from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Macmillan Cancer Relief, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and anti-smoking group ASH.

Dr Bill O'Neill, Scottish secretary of the BMA, said: "The determined actions of the tobacco industry brought about the failure of the European directive on tobacco advertising.

"Sadly, the commitment given by the Westminster parliament to introduce a ban also appears to have faltered. Politicians of all parties must now unite to bring forward effective legislation through the Scottish Parliament.

Scottish legislation

Lorraine Alstead of Macmillan Cancer Relief added: "Cancer affects almost every family in Scotland and smoking is the number one cause of cancer. The longer the delay in introducing measures to reduce tobacco uptake, the more lives we put at risk.

"We hope that the Scottish Parliament will take the initiative and treat this not as a party-political issue but as a key measure in improving Scotland's health."

The seeds of the current debate were sown when Labour promised to ban tobacco advertising when it swept to power in 1997.

Grand Prix
Tobacco firms spend 100m each year on UK advertising
Despite restating its commitment in principle, the government became the target for anti-tobacco groups when the ban failed to materialise.

Although laws regulating tobacco advertising are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, MSPs agreed in January to accept a Westminster bill on the subject.

But there was widespread disappointment among opposition parties and health professionals when there was no mention of a ban in the Queen's Speech, which set out the legislative agenda for the Labour government in the wake of its second election landslide.

Last month, SNP health spokeswoman Nicola Sturgeon initiated a member's bill in the Scottish Parliament, which could pave the way for a ban north of the border.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon has launched a member's bill
The move was followed last week when Lord Clement-Jones, Liberal Democrat health spokesman in the House of Lords, introduced a Private Members' Bill with the same purpose.

Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday that she was prepared to continue with her Member's Bill despite growing pressure for her to leave any legislative change to the Westminster parliament.

"Obviously a ban would be better across the UK, but moving forward in Scotland is better than doing nothing," she said.

"A ban has unanimous support in the Scottish Parliament, as we saw in the vote in January, so now I'm aiming to get as many of them to back the bill I hope to bring forward now."

The tobacco industry spends 100m every year marketing its products throughout Britain and the BMA says this has a diverse affect on public health.

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See also:

26 Jun 01 | Scotland
Tobacco ad ban urged
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
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Europe's smoking shock tactics
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