Car industry in uproar over cigarette-style ad controls

European Parliament (EP) proposals to introduce tobacco-style safety warnings on car ads have been branded an “absolute nonsense” by the motoring industry.

The EP’s Environment Committee has voted in favour of a report by Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies that calls for 20% of advertising space in car ads to be used to highlight carbon dioxide (CO2) emission levels. The report will go before the full EP next month.

Davies says the car industry has “cynically betrayed” an agreement made with the European Commission to lower CO2 emissions in favour of chasing bigger profits.

The report suggests that legislation which requires health warnings to be displayed on cigarette packs provides a “useful example” of its proposals.

But the committee has been slammed by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which claims the automotive sector is already one of the most heavily regulated when it comes to advertising. SMMT head of communications Nigel Wonnacott says: “Any talk of cigarette-style restrictions on car ads is an absolute nonsense. To suggest that we are making planet-destroying products and need the same kind of restrictions as something as patently harmful as cigarettes is just headline grabbing. This is a bridge too far.”

Print and point-of-sale car ads are already required to include information on CO2 levels and Advertising Association head of public affairs Sue Eustace adds: “The proposed restrictions are not proportionate or tenable. This could be very damaging for the advertising industry and for car manufacturers.”

The EP’s proposals come just days after the Conservative Party’s Quality of Life Policy Group, set up by David Cameron, called for stringent curbs on car advertising.

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