01 June 1998

THE FORTHCOMING EC ban on tobacco advertising is to be disputed by Germany in the European Court of Justice. The timing of the challenge is significant: the case will be filed with the Luxembourg-based court at the beginning of September - just weeks before Germany's general election. It is thought that the canny pipe-smoking Chancellor Kohl will milk the challenge as an electioneering ploy. Germany argues that the tobacco advertising issue is one of health policy and therefore a matter for the jurisdiction of member states rather than the European Commission. More to the point, German publishers are vehemently opposed to the ban and the concomitant loss of ad revenues, and will doubtless favour those politicians who fight it. Notwithstanding Helmut's sudden rush of principle to the head [a rare condition for all politicians - but one to which they are prone in the run-up to elections], the European Union yesterday formally approved the ad ban, with Germany and Austria voting against and Denmark and Spain abstaining.

Anti-smoking pressure group Action on Smoking and Health is lobbying the Government to ban all tobacco promotion by the Millennium, warning that the tobacco barons will do everything in their power to consolidate their marketing positions prior to the implementation of the ban across the EU.