Following prolonged vacillation the British government appears set to ban tobacco advertising in the press, on billboards and the internet - as predicted by WAMN last month [07-Jan-02]. Tobacco advertising has not been permitted on television for over a decade.
The Blair administration has agreed to give its backing to a bill proposed in the House of Lords by Liberal Democrat member Lord Clement-Jones. This means that a slot for the bill will now be found in the crowded legislative agenda of the House of Commons.
The bill is similar to that proposed last year by the government, shelved because of the May 2001 general election and not since resurrected. It will mirror laws governing direct promotion of tobacco in sixteen other European countries.
Unofficial negotiations are already in train between Lord Clement-Jones and the Department of Health. Although the DoH is expected to require certain amendments to the bill, Clement-Jones is optimistic: “With the assistance of colleagues on the government front benches,” he said, “we think we shall not have to concede very much.”
Although the government has yet to confirm its backing for the bill, it is expected to complete its prior passage through the Lords by March 9.
Advertising and promotional spend by tobacco companies in the UK totals an estimated £130 million annually – said to be tenfold the amount spent by the government on anti-tobacco campaigns.
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff