The European Parliament voted, on 13 May, in favour of the
Council's common position, without amendments, on the proposed
Directive on the approximation of Member States' laws, regulations,
and administrative provisions on advertising for tobacco products.
If the Council now adopts the text in the same form, the Member
States will be obliged to transpose the Directive into national law
within three years.
The Directive requires Member States to ban
billboard, radio and most other forms of tobacco advertising within
three years. However, Member States may postpone application of the
Directive by one year for the print media and by two years for
sponsorship involving cigarettes in general. Under certain
conditions, sponsorship of events or activities organised at world
level, such as Formula One motor racing, will be tolerated for an
additional five years, until October 2006 at the latest. The
Directive does not apply to advertising or display of tobacco
products or indications of prices at sales points, nor to
communications intended exclusively for the trade, nor to the sale
of publications published and printed in third countries, unless
they are meant principally for the Community market. The Member
States are free to adopt their own legislation in these areas.
Opponents of the ban are threatening to challenge
the Directive in the European Court on the grounds that it has no
foundation in Community law. The legal basis originally proposed
for the Directive was Article 100a of the EU Treaty, which provides
for the harmoni-sation of legislation on the Internal Market. The
Council added Articles 57(2) (on the activities of self-employed
people) and 66 (on freedom to provide services) in its common
position. The Committee on Legal Affairs has voiced its opposition
to the use of Article 100a as the Treaty basis for the ban,
claiming that the Article cannot be used to hinder the free
movement of goods which it is intended to encourage, or to impose
health measures on the Member States.