REGULATION NEWS;PROPOSAL WOULD BAR ADS FOR HIGH-TAR CIGARETTES

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[brussels] The European Commission has dropped some of the extreme restrictions on European commercial TV, demanded by the European Parliament, in its latest version of the TV Without Frontiers directive, unveiled last month.

Parliament's attempt to put a squeeze on permissible advertising airtime was dropped. Also axed were amendments to ban advertising on teleshopping channels and to include all new media in the proposed law.

But some amendments remain in the text. One decrees that advertising and teleshopping should "not be offensive to philosophical beliefs."

[brussels] Tobacco advertising restricted according to the level of tar in the smoke may be the idea big enough to break a 5-year stalemate in Brussels over a proposal to ban tobacco ads in Europe altogether. The Irish government is considering the idea; it takes over the six-month presidency of the Council of Ministers from Italy in July.

The proposal would result in an outright ad ban for high-tar brands (levels over 15mg per cigarette), and less restrictions on lower tar variants.

"Most of the amendments put forward by each consecutive presidency have been similar, if not identical, and as such have not worried us," said one tobacco industry source. "This Irish one does."

Last month the Italian presidency's amendment to the proposed tobacco directive failed to bust apart the blocking minority that has prevented any breakthrough on the issue. It suggested banning ads from radio and youth magazines only.

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