House of Lords vetoes amendment to tobacco advertising legislation

Members of the House of Lords have vetoed a proposed amendment to the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Private Members Bill, which, if left in, could have lead to the Bill being scrapped six years after its introduction.

The amendment, made by three members of the Lords, proposed that if a ban on tobacco advertising failed to reduce the number of smokers within six years it should be scrapped (MW November 15, 2001).

The same clause delayed the progress of a Government bill to ban tobacco ads in the last parliamentary session, following the Conservative Pary’s insistence that it be included.

The clause is also seen as a serious loophole by the anti-tobacco lobby, which argues that tobacco companies could slash their prices to keep smoking levels high and undermine the bill.

However, Department of Health (DoH) minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath argued that DoH research has already established that a tobacco advertising ban will reduce smoking levels.

Proposals to allow all sports to continue using tobacco sponsorship until 2006, rather than 2003, were also rejected. At present, only Formula 1 will have special dispensation.

The Bill is now due for debate in the House of Commons in March. The Government has already indicated it will back the Bill, a carbon copy of its own, providing none of the amendments are too radical.

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