01 April 1998

THE VESTED INTERESTS shared by the publishing and tobacco industries mobilised for all-out war following the decision of the European Parliament by 313 votes to 211 to ban tobacco advertising and sponsorship.. The publishing industry responded with accusations that the new directive is ‘an assault on freedom of expression’. [Sounds more altruistic than ‘will leave a large hole in our ad revenues.’] Sir Frank Rogers, chairman of the European Publishers Council and director of The Telegraph Group fumed: ‘The question of the legal base was apparently dismissed by a majority of MEPs in an unseemly rush to push through this shabby piece of legislation. We are now preparing our legal challenges at national level in every EU member state to stop this directive.’ Another predictable howl came from former Tory minister John Carlisle, now director of the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, who avers that the EU has no authority on health, economic or single market grounds to justify the legislation. Member states have three years to phase-out tobacco advertising from posters and cinemas, and four years for press and magazines. Sponsorship of sport and cultural events has a five year reprieve - except Formula One motor racing which enjoys an eight year stay of execution.