Opponents of the Government’s proposed ban on tobacco advertising have slated draft regulations as premature, draconian and confusing.
The bans on poster and press advertising have been brought forward from July 2001 and July 30, 2002 respectively as stipulated by the European directive, to December 10 this year.
Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association director of trade and industry affairs Chris Ogden says: “It is not clear in the case of magazines if it will be the cover date that counts, the date the magazine went to press, or the date it arrives on the newstands.”
Poster contractors are concerned they could face a criminal conviction if they fail to take tobacco ads down before the deadline.
There is also confusion as to whether the ban will extend to all forms of direct marketing. A Department of Health spokeswoman says: “Direct marketing will be subject to a total ban.”
But on the day the regulations were published, Margaret Beckett, the leader of the House of Commons, said in the Commons: “My understanding is that there is not necessarily a prohibition on direct mail, but there is a strong attempt to try to hinder tobacco companies in using direct mail specifically to target vulnerable youngsters.”
Consultation is to take place on the proposed regulations which the government intends to introduce to the statute books in August.