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APRIL 6, 2006

The meaning of the word law

The European Commission has announced that it is takes action against four member states for their failure to comply with the provisions of European anti-tobacco legislation. The commission is sending letters of formal notice to the Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary and Spain for non-compliance with the Tobacco Advertising Directive of 2003. The four countries have all allowed exemptions from the tobacco sponsorship ban when transposing the Tobacco Advertising Directive into national law. The countries have two months to reply and must bring their legislation into conformity with the directive or face the infringement procedure.

"The Tobacco Advertising Directive is one of the cornerstones in our fight against tobacco and I urge Member States to apply it properly," said Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection. "Stopping the glamorisation of tobacco through advertising and sponsorship is a key aspect in reducing the number of people who smoke or start to smoke. Previous action taken by the Commission against other member states in relation to this Directive demonstrates that I will not hesitate in taking steps to ensure that it is fully and properly applied."

In October 2005, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to 12 member states for failing to communicate their transposition measures properly, all except Germany and Luxembourg have now provided the relevant information. However Spain has a transitional provision whereby the ban on advertising and sponsorship in motor racing events does not apply until 3 years after the entry into force of the Spanish law; Italy does not apply the sponsorship ban to events that take place exclusively on the territory of Italy; Hungary allows an exemption from the ban on tobacco advertising under special circumstances which related to economically important events for Hungary and the Czech Republic granted a general 3 year derogation for contracts signed before the legislation came into effect.

The Commission is continuing infringement procedures against Germany and Luxembourg for failing to communicate the national measures taken.