Battle over South African tobacco ad ban intensifies

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JOHANNESBURG -- The Tobacco Institute, an industry body, has applied to the High Court of South Africa to force Health Minister Dr Nkosazana Zuma to hand over documents used in drafting the controversial Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill. The proposed legislation will impose a blanket ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products, and on smoking in public places.

Stepping up its fight against the bill, the industry claims it was deliberately excluded from processes leading to the drafting of the legislation, while stakeholders opposed to smoking were allowed full access.

Meanwhile, the Freedom of Commercial Speech Trust is backing down from mounting a full constitutional challenge of the bill, having obtained a legal opinion this is unlikely to succeed.

However, some modification of the bill may be forced upon the government. The Print Media Association has launched a lastditch bid to soften the impact of the bill, offering to cooperate with Dr Zuma in a review of the style of tobacco advertising, a phasing-in program for the new legislation, and a joint campaign to educate youth about the dangers of smoking.

Opponents of the bill have been given a new deadline of August 31 by which to lodge objections.

Copyright August 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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