In an unexpected move, the British government is reportedly planning to revive legislation to ban tobacco advertising in the current parliamentary session, following pressure from anti-smoking lobbyists and MPs of the governing Labour Party.

A previous Bill to introduce a ban was shelved when prime minister Tony Blair called June’s general election. When the new parliament convened, however, the measure had mysteriously disappeared from the line-up of forthcoming legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech – much to the chagrin of the Department of Health [WAMN: 19-Jun-01].

Yet Health ministers are apparently now confident that legislation will be introduced. A group of Labour MPs planning to introduce a backbench Private Member’s Bill to ban tobacco advertising was told not to bother by government whips, since ministers would be taking action in the current session (ending in November).

There has been continued pressure in the House of Commons for anti-tobacco legislation. A motion calling for an ad ban, which supporters claim would reduce annual smoking-related deaths by 120,000 and ease pressure on the beleaguered National Health Service, was recently tabled by thirty-one Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs.

“There is no logic to the government’s position,” commented Labour MP Kevin Barron. “Its own anti-smoking campaigns are being undermined by the tobacco companies spending £100 million a year on promoting smoking. The sooner that contradiction is ended the better.”

News source: CampaignLive (UK)