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Europe fights back over tobacco

THE European Commission, stung by the rejection of its anti-tobacco directive by the Europe Court recently, is hitting back with a new draft directive expected to go before the European Parliament on December 11 that will make it illegal for tobacco companies to use terms which suggest that the cigarettes are less harmful than normal. If the ban goes through tobacco companies will not be allowed to use names such as "light", "mild" or even "low tar". According to the tobacco companies this would wipe out brands which account for 30% of their sales within the European Union.

This is not going to achieved without a fight as the tobacco companies are threatening to challenge the ban on the basis that they own the trademarks to such names. There are added complications as some brands have always had such words in their names: notably Mild Seven.

At the same time British American Tobacco has just announced plans to create a company called the Trans-Urban Trading Co. which will sell a variety of non-tobacco produce but will use the Lucky Strike red roundel as part of its logo. The idea is an extension of the Lucky Strike catalogue that has been selling American goods in Europe for the last few years.

Anti-tobacco campaigners are complaining that BAT is "brand-stretching" to sell more cigarettes while BAT says that it is moving in this direction to use an established brands in other forms of business.

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