Ban on tobacco posters planned: Private Bill puts pressure on Bottomley

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Indy Politics
THE GOVERNMENT is to seek a ban on poster advertising by tobacco companies to head off support for a Private Member's Bill which would impose a statutory ban on cigarette advertisements.

Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, is planning to reveal next week that the voluntary agreement with the tobacco industry is to be renegotiated. But Kevin Barron, Labour MP for Rother Valley, has embarrassed the Government with his Bill, to be published today, to impose a statutory ban on tobacco advertising. It is expected to gain a Second Reading in the Commons on 11 February.

Campaigners for tougher action say the code, forbidding cigarettes to be associated with success and sex, has been flouted by the tobacco industry by using more abstract advertisements - such as gold pyramids and purple silk - to get their message across. Mrs Bottomley is seeking tougher voluntary curbs on cigarette advertisements directed at young people, including banning posters, advertisements in women's magazines aimed at the young, and advertisements on shop fronts.

She is resisting calls for statutory action, but is under fire from both sides for inconsistency. A reduction in cigarette smoking among the young is one of the targets in the White Paper, Health of the Nation.

Mr Barron's Bill has produced a split, on a ministerial committee preparing the Government's response, between those supporting tougher action and Cabinet colleagues, including Kenneth Clarke, insisting that higher pricing is the way to cut consumption.

Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for National Heritage, is resisting pressure from Mrs Bottomley to tighten the voluntary agreement on sports sponsorship, warning that a range of sports from motor racing to snooker would suffer.

The poster industry, which would lose pounds 35m a year - about 15 per cent of its income - is lobbying MPs to oppose both the Bill and a voluntary ban on poster advertisements.