A loophole in the tobacco advertising bill currently before Parliament will allow overseas tobacco advertisers to peddle their wares on British websites while banning ads by UK-based manufacturers.

As currently drafted, the Tobacco Advertisers and Promotions Bill will outlaw the promotion of tobacco via UK-based radio, newspapers, billboards and TV. It also forbids ISPs located in Britain from selling ads to tobacco advertisers.

But the prohibition does not extend to ISPs elsewhere in the world, which are free to advertise UK and other tobacco brands with impunity. Anti-tobacco campaigners are worried that the loophole will lead to a flood of e-mail and ISP ads for foreign brands.

Weymouth MP Ian Bruce believes the flaw in the bill could trigger a move to the web by cigarettes advertisers, giving international companies an unfair advantage: "The UK is supposed to be the best place in Europe for e-business, but this flaw costs billions of pounds of potential UK ad money to go overseas. It's a disaster for British industry," he said.

News Source: CampaignLive (UK)