Only weeks after the European Parliament mandated larger and grislier health warnings on cigarette packs, the European Commission has proposed new legislation to ban tobacco advertising in almost all its forms.

A similar measure was defeated last year after an appeal by the tobacco industry to the European Court of Justice. The latest proposals, however, have been framed to prevent a similar court challenge.

The new draft bill resuscitates a total ban on cigarette advertising in newspapers, magazines, the internet and radio - TV advertising is already forbidden. Sponsorship of sports events will also be verboten.

The measures, if approved by Parliament and the fifteen member states, will become law in 2004. Says health commissioner David Byrne: “Tobacco is a highly addictive product and over 80% of smokers begin before the age of 18 years. The correlation between tobacco advertising and consumption is significant; it tends to produce an image of acceptability and good living.”

One in three Europeans are cigarette smokers, compared with America’s one in five, and the deaths of more than 500,000 EU citizens every year are smoking-related.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)