01 July 1998

UK TOBACCO MANUFACTURERS have announced their intention to appeal to the European Court of Justice against the European Union's ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship. The ban, approved last December by eleven of the fifteen EU states, will progressively outlaw almost all tobacco advertising and sponsorship between 2001 and 2006. However, Germany, which voted against the prohibition, says it will challenge the EU decision, alleging it has exceeded its legal powers. Meantime, the UK's Big Three manufacturers, Imperial Tobacco, Rothmans and American-owned Gallaher, argue that that the ban violates several principles of European law. They maintain that the matter is a health issue disguised as single market harmonisation, arguing that as tobacco advertising does not cross national borders within the EU, harmonisation is a sham [ignoring sponsorship which unquestionably transcends EU frontiers]. The manufacturers also claim that the UK's voluntary code on tobacco advertising and marketing has 'provided a successful framework for curbing smoking among younger people' and should continue without imposed legislation.