MPs back Bill to ban tobacco advertising

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The Independent Online
THE HOUSE OF Commons yesterday gave its approval to a Private Member's Bill to ban tobacco advertising. MPs from all parties supported the measure, their principal concern is to stop young people being lured into a habit they condemned as 'unpleasant, dirty, anti-social' and the killer of 110,000 people a year.

However, the Tobacco Advertising Bill, introduced by Kevin Barron, Labour MP for Rother Valley, stands little chance of becoming law. It would also outlaw sports sponsorship by tobacco companies. Brian Mawhinney, the Minister of State for Health, acknowledged the influence of advertising but reiterated the Government's preference for voluntary controls.

He said that over the last 20 years, voluntary restraint had 'squeezed out' a large part of the reduction in smoking that a ban was likely to produce. None the less, Dr Mawhinney promised negotiations with the industry to strengthen controls. These will focus on curbing the influence of advertising on 11- to 15-year-olds where the Government's drive to reduce smoking has so far failed. 'These negotiations are not an easy option,' he said.

The Bill was given an unopposed Second Reading after a motion from Mr Barron to close the day-long debate was carried by 227 votes to 17.

It will now be considered in committee, but at some stage the Government will either allow it to be 'talked out' by backbench opponents, or kill it off itself.

Mr Barron claimed a ban could cut smoking-related deaths by between 4,400 and 9,900 a year. While regular smoking among adults had fallen from 35 per cent in 1982 to 28 per cent in 1992, the figure for 15-year-olds fell by 1 per cent to 23 per cent.

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