U.K. tobacco advertisers win temporary reprieve

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LONDON -- The U.K. government has awarded the advertising and tobacco industries a temporary reprieve from a ban on tobacco promotion.

The Queen's Speech, which sets out the legislative program for the next 18 months, did not include a bill on the subject, as was expected, but a White Paper and a draft bill on how the ban would be implemented.

This effectively slows down the process, giving time for fuller consultation as to how far the ban should go. The government has already indicated that it does not wish to dent sporting revenues by banning tobacco sponsorship outright.

However, Minister of State for Public Health Tessa Jowell is leaving tobacco marketers in no doubt of the government's resolve to ban their advertising. "Let me be completely clear about one thing: the government is fully committed to banning tobacco advertising," she said after the Queen's Speech. "This is an essential first step in building an effective strategy to deal with smoking."

A wider range of measures to help reduce tobacco consumption needs more thought, however. "I am therefore calling together a high level seminar of British and international experts in the field of smoking reduction," she said. Their conclusions will help shape government policy.

A bill is likely to be put to Parliament next year, working towards an advertising ban by the summer of 1999.

Copyright May 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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