Parliament stops efforts to undermine tobacco advertising ban

Strasbourg, 20 November 2002,

Tobacco advertising

Parliament STOPs efforts to undermine tobacco advertising ban

Heidi Hautala MEP, shadow rapporteur of the Green/EFA group in the Legal Affairs Committee, is relieved after the plenary voting result:

“It is a victory for public health in Europe that the plenary session of the European Parliament adopted today the proposal for a Directive on a tobacco advertising ban. The Directive, which bans direct advertising in the radio and press, is an important step to end distortions of the internal market and unfair competition conditions across the borders between Member States resulting from a minority of countries allowing direct tobacco advertising. [:]

“I am pleased that the Parliament has just rejected the Legal Affairs Committee report, which, had it been adopted, would have undermined the whole proposal to ban cross-border advertising and sponsorship of this deadly commodity.

“Publishing houses and radio channels, which compete for same audiences within the EU, need to be on the same footing when it comes to such a significant source of financing. Operators in Member States, which permit tobacco advertising, should not be allowed to have an unfair advantage, or to be able to circumvent national restrictions by placing operations in an EU country, which allows such advertising.”

“The Legal Affairs committee report was drafted in a very devious way to appear public health friendly – but with a hidden agenda to either impair the legal validity of the Directive or to undermine the competence of Member States to restrict other types of advertising, such as indirect advertising, which were not part of the Commission proposal. I find it alarming that the tobacco lobby receives such support amongst politicians – and this in turn raises questions about the extent to which tobacco companies support political parties in some Member States.

“I am also relieved that my proposal to include a safeguard text to the directive was adopted. This safeguard amendment clarifies and reinforces the right of Member States to ban indirect advertising or other types of tobacco promotion not covered by the Directive through national law in order to protect public health.”

Pierre Jonckheer MEP and Bart Staes MEP added:

“It is encouraging that the European Parliament rejected the attempt to delay the ban on tobacco sponsoring of international events, such as the Formula 1 races. This is a signal to the Belgian Parliament not to give in to the tobacco lobby, which seeks to scrap the Belgian tobacco-advertising ban.”

Hautala concludes:

“Even if this piece of legislation is only a modest beginning to address tobacco advertising in the EU, it will allow for the Commission to represent the EU in international negotiations aiming at restricting tobacco advertising globally. Looking at the result of the vote, there is now a very good chance that the Council will conclude this important legislation without further delay in December Health Council meeting.”

For further information please contact:

Helmut Weixler
Head of Press Office
The Greens in the European Parliament
Tel: (Bxl) +32 2 2844683
phone: 0032 475 671 340
fax: 0032 2 2844944
mobile phone: 0032-475-67 13 40