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FEBRUARY 1, 2006

EU gives Germany a smack on the wrist over tobacco

The European Commission has sent "reasoned opinions" to Germany and Luxembourg for their failing to convert a European law about advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products into their national law. The two countries have already received formal notices and now have just two months to comply otherwise the EU will take them to the European Court of Justice. The court can impose fines.

"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."

The Commission is also investigating countries where things have not been done correctly and says that it will not hesitate to take action if it is proved that the countries involved "have implemented exemptions or granted derogations which go against the provisions of the 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 came into force on July 31 last year.