UK Government Unveils Tobacco Ad Ban Timetable

09 December 2002

St Valentine will not be lighting-up in on his feast day next year. As of February 14 2003, tobacco ads will be banned from all British newspapers, billboards and UK-based internet sites.

The Department of Health has issued commencement orders setting out the timetable under which it will implement the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002.

Three months later (May 14) tobacco ads will also be outlawed from all direct marketing and mailing activities, followed in June by brand-sharing - branded apparel ranges, for example.

Sponsorship of national events will end the following month, although certain ‘global sports’, notably Formula One auto racing (the personal fiefdom of tycoon Bernie Ecclestone whose financial generosity to the Labour Party back in 1997 earned him the ear of prime minister Blair) will be exempt from the ban until 2006.

The Tobacco Manufacturers Association expressed its displeasure with the Blair administration for going further and faster than the European Union directive, approved last week, which will curtail tobacco promotion throughout all fifteen EU states from 2005.

TMA chief executive Tim Lord complained that UK legislation is “more Draconian” than the EU directive. Posters and brand-sharing, for instance, will be allowed to continue under the EU law, although the situation regarding direct marketing is as yet unclear.

• Separately, UK tobacco giant Gallaher has briefed M&C Saatchi to create a valedictory press and poster campaign for its Silk Cut cigarette brand.

One treatment under consideration depicts an overweight female warbling, which expresses the thematic cliché: ‘It’s not over until the fat lady sings.’

There's nothing like going out on a high!

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK) and; additional content by WARC staff