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GERMANY: EU to take Germany to court over tobacco ads

Reuters
April 12th, 2006

Germany could face legal action for failing to implement a ban on advertising tobacco, a European Commissioner was quoted on Wednesday as saying.

"We have to wait until May 1 to assess the situation. But I am determined to bring the case to the Court of Justice without delay and will recommend this step to the Commission," Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou told Germany's Berliner Zeitung daily.

A decision on whether to proceed would be made at a meeting scheduled for June 28, he added.

"Germany and Luxembourg are the only nations which have still not passed any law," Kyprianou said in an interview. "Although Luxembourg is apparently in the process of doing it."

EU rules ban tobacco advertising in print media, on the radio and internet and at cross-border events or activities. Member states had until July 31, 2005 to introduce the legislation into national law.

The Commission argues that advertising can increase tobacco consumption, particularly among young people, and may distract from warning messages about the potential health risks.

A spokeswoman for Germany's consumer affairs ministry struck a defiant tone on Wednesday and said Berlin was committed to protecting the health of non-smokers.

"We do not want the EU to dictate to us which advertisements we can print or broadcast and which not. It's not about the question of protection for non-smokers yes or no."

The government was waiting for a decision on a complaint against the EU's rules on tobacco advertising it had filed with the court of justice in late 2003, she added.

"Talks are still under way but we're confident we can find a solution under which we can act in accordance with EU law," she said.

The Commission earlier this month began legal action against four EU countries for failing to ban tobacco advertisements at motor racing and other events.

The Commission sent "letters of formal notice" to the Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary and Spain.



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