Friday May 18th, 2001
The European Commission aims to present revised proposals to curb tobacco advertising in the bloc in early June, European health commissioner David Byrne said on Friday.
"I want to reduce the visibility of tobacco in the market place in the hope that we will reduce consumption of tobacco in the European Union," Byrne told a news conference during a visit to Berlin. He noted around 33 percent of adults in the European Union smoked compared with only 20 percent in the United States.
Byrne did not say if the new draft would seek to reinstate a ban on tobacco sponsorship of Formula One motor racing - the legislation the court struck down imposed a 2006 deadline - or whether it would affect other sporting events.
He noted, however, that the organisers of Formula One had committed themselves to respecting the 2006 deadline.
"We need to get the figure in the European Union down to the U.S. levels or lower. That is my ambition and I believe these measures will lead in that direction."
Byrne said the new draft would fully respect a ruling by the European Union's highest court that struck down an earlier EU ban on tobacco advertising. He said the court ruling had set clear guidelines as to what the EU could and could not do.
"The court said... if you want to ban advertising it must have a trans-border dimension," Byrne said, saying that meant adverts on television could be restricted but those in cinemas could not.
"We will be hoping to ban advertising in newspapers, periodicals, and that would be on an EU-wide basis," Byrne added.
Byrne said he expected the new legislation to encounter little opposition from the European Parliament or EU governments and that it would be adopted within 12-18 months.
Currently, five Formula One teams - Ferrari, McLaren, BAR, Benetton and Jordan - are sponsored by tobacco companies.