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3rd Jul 2022

Brussels toughens up on member states over tobacco ads

The European Commission has warned member states that it will take legal action against those who have not implemented a ban on tobacco advertising, which the 25 nation bloc agreed to in 2003.

Germany, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic are in the firing line for their "stubborn" refusal to properly implement the ban, said EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou while on a visit to Berlin on Wednesday (12 April).

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  • "Smoking kills 650,000 people in the European Union every year," said EU commissioner Kyprianou (Photo: European Commission)

"Smoking kills 650,000 people in the European Union every year," Mr Kyprianou told the Berliner Zeitung.

"It is the most frequent avoidable cause of death. [...] Tobacco advertising increases consumption and encourages children and young people to smoke," he added.

Only EU members Germany and Luxembourg have not implemented the 2003 EU directive. However, Luxembourg has indicated that it is preparing to pass the legislation into law, avoiding the threats facing Germany.

The commissioner intends to take Germany to the European Court of Justice next month for ignoring an April deadline to ban the tobacco ads from newspapers and the internet.

Spain, Hungary, Italy and the Czech Republic, although having signed up to the advertising ban, have refused to include formula one racing in the ban.

Smoking bans

Meanwhile, the French government has delayed legislation to ban smoking in public places to avert another potential confrontation in the country after months of street protests by students. Almost a third of the French population smoke.

In Germany, government measures to introduce a smoking ban have been put off mainly because of the cosy relationship between politicians and the tobacco industry, critics say according to the Financial Times Deutschland.

Several other European countries have already made concrete moves on the issue. Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Spain and Malta have imposed a tobacco ban in public places, and Britain is due to do so next year.

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