Brussels, 1 February 2006
Today the European Commission sent “reasoned opinions” to Germany and Luxembourg for failing to transpose into national law Directive 2003/33/EC of 26 May 2003 on advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products. These countries already received a “letter of formal notice” in October 2005. They now have two months to comply, otherwise the Commission will resort to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to declare that these Member States have failed to fulfil their obligation to transpose EU legislation. In case Member States still do not comply with the judgement of the Court, the ECJ can impose fines following a proposal of the European Commission.
“The Commission must ensure that EU law is upheld,” said European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou. “I am determined to enforce this piece of legislation, which is essential in the fight against smoking. I am sure that all governments realise that glamorising smoking through fancy advertising can have devastating effects, in particular on young people. So I strongly urge non-compliant countries to come back into line and help us defend European citizens’ health.”
Most countries comply – but a few still ignore EU legislation
The Commission is also investigating situations in countries where transposition has not been made correctly. The Commission will not hesitate to bring cases against these countries if it is proved that they have implemented exemptions or granted derogations which go against the provisions of the Directive.
What is the Tobacco Advertising Directive?
The Directive bans tobacco advertising in the print media, on radio and over
the internet. It also prohibits tobacco sponsorship of cross-border events or
activities. The Directive was passed by the European Parliament and Council in
2003 and was due for transposition into national legislation by 31July 2005. It
applies only to advertising and sponsorship with a cross-border dimension.
Advertising in cinemas and on billboards or using merchandising (e.g. ash trays
or parasols) therefore falls outside its scope, but can still be banned by
national laws – a path chosen by several EU Member States. Tobacco
advertising on television has been banned in the EU since the early 1990s, and
is governed by the TV Without Frontiers Directive.