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Brussels, 28 June 2006

Commission refers Germany to the European Court of Justice on tobacco advertising

The European Commission has today decided to refer Germany to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for non-transposition of the Tobacco Advertising Directive 2003/33/EC. The Court referral follows the letter of formal notice sent in October 2005 and a reasoned opinion sent in February 2006. The referral to the ECJ is the next step in the infringement procedure.

European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: “Tobacco advertising and sponsorship glamorises tobacco and incites children and young adults to start smoking. I am determined to hold all Member States to account for their implementation of this key piece of EU legislation, and if this means referring the matter to the Court, so be it.”

The Tobacco Advertising Directive

The Tobacco Advertising Directive 2003/33/EC bans tobacco advertising in printed media, on radio and over the internet. It also prohibits tobacco sponsorship of cross-border events or activities, such as Formula One races. 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, although these can still be banned under national law – 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. The Tobacco Advertising Directive was agreed by the European Parliament and Council in 2003 and had to be transposed into national legislation by 31July 2005. By this date, Member States should have adopted national transposition measures and communicated them to the Commission.

Other cases

The Commission has also sent a reasoned opinion for non-transposition to Luxembourg on 7 February 2006. On 4 April, Luxembourg replied that the government had changed its policy in terms of tobacco control and that it had thus withdrawn its support for Germany’s application for the annulment of the Directive before the ECJ. It also announced its intention to transpose the Tobacco Advertising Directive by July 2006. The Commission welcomes these steps and will ensure that they are properly followed up in the committed time frame.

In April 2006, the Commission also sent “letters of formal notice” to the Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary and Spain for wrong transposition of the same Directive as they allow exemptions from the sponsorship ban which is a core aspect of this legislation. These cases will be examined by the Commission in July.

For further information, please see IP/05/1013 and MEMO/05/274, and visit:

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