Ban on tobacco advertisements enters into effectComments Off on Ban on tobacco advertisements enters into effect

On 31 July 2005 the EU tobacco advertising ban established under Directive/2003/33/EC will enter into effect three years after the adoption of the Tobacco Advertising Directive. 

The directive of 2003 bans tobacco advertising in the print media, on radio and over the internet. It also prohibits tobacco sponsorship of cross-border cultural and sporting events. Advertising in cinemas and on billboards or using merchandising (e.g. ash trays or parasols) falls outside the scope of the directive, as these do not have a cross-border dimension. Even so for tobacco sponsorship at events which are purely local.

Tobacco advertising on television falls outside the scope of this directive as well. However, this issue is governed by the TV Without Frontiers Directive and has been banned in the EU since the 1990s.

According to Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou “Banning tobacco advertising is one of the most effective ways of reducing smoking.” A recent World Bank study shows advertising bans can reduce smoking prevalence by up to 7%.

Most EU countries have passed or are in the process of passing the necessary laws for this Directive. However, it is not clear if all will do so before 31 July. Germany actually challenges the new Directive at the European Court. It says the Directive goes beyond EU law-makers’ powers.

The Commission says it stays well within its powers, as the Directive adheres strictly to the limits laid down by the Court in its 2001 judgment. This judgment ruled that the total ban on tobacco advertising established by the EU in the previous Directive of 1998 was invalid. It stated too, however, that the EU could legitimately introduce a more limited ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship.

The European Commission adopted a report on the implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive stating that ingredient listings are the one aspect of the Directive which has not been well implemented.  A consultation on how to make disclosure rules on additives more effective will be launched in the autumn.

In the meantime Sweden has become the fourth country that introduced a total smoking ban in restaurants and bars, following the example of Italy, Malta and Ireland.

These countries presented their policies and experiences at the “Smoke Free Europe partnership” event held on 2 June 2005 that was endorsed by the Luxembourg EU Presidency.  A broad platform of European NGO’s concerned about health and the effects of environmental tobacco smoke in the workplace organised this event, where the partnership report on the cost effectiveness of comprehensive smoke free policies was launched.