All forms of tobacco and alcohol advertising in the Ukraine unexpectedly became illegal in just seven and a half minutes on Thursday.

In a shock amendment to the nations’ advertising legislation, members of the Supreme Rada – the Ukrainian national parliament – voted by 310 to 140 to prohibit forthwith all forms of direct advertising for tobacco and alcohol products.

Advertising on television is already illegal but print media, outdoor posters and electronic media were until yesterday unaffected. A stunned Maxim Lasebnik, head of the All-Ukranian Advertising Coalition said the ban was a bolt from the blue and had not been included in the two previous readings of the bill.

Ukraine’s advertising community was equally bemused. Said an account director with the local office of a major network: “We simply don't know what to say to our clients.”

But according to Vladimir Aksionov, a local spokesperson for British-American Tobacco – which by implication has friends in high places – Ukranian President Leonid Kuchma is likely to veto the controversial amendment.

Others close to the corridors of power are not so sure, pointing out that President Kuchma is not known for his interference with the adoption of new laws – especially those passed with a parliamentary majority of more than two thirds

News source: AdAge Global