British ministers’ attempts to ban tobacco advertising face opposition from the German government, which has filed an objection to the legislation.

Germany claims the Tobacco Advertising and Promotions Bill – supported by the British government after its introduction into parliament by an opposition MP – infringes the free-trade rules of the European Union and the World Trade Organization.

When governments in the EU introduce legislation that may inhibit free trade, they must provide a three-month notification period during which other member states can flag their opposition.

Britain now has three months to consider a reply. Failure to respond to Germany’s complaints could lead to legal action.

The extra delay could have serious consequences for the bill. Even before Germany raised its concerns, the government was rushing to complete its passage through the Commons before the end of the current parliamentary session. If unfinished by then, the bill would have to begin the procedure again from scratch.

“The German government is once again doing the tobacco industry’s dirty work,” fumed Clive Bates, director of lobby group Action on Smoking and Health. “It is vital that the UK government presses ahead with the legislation without delay.”

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