Written Answers. - Tobacco Advertising Promotion.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

66 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health his views on whether there should be a total ban on the advertising and promotion of cigarettes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [447/94]

At present advertising of tobacco products in Ireland is governed by the Tobacco Products (Control of Advertising, Sponsorship and Sales Promotion) Regulations, 1991 which confines such advertising to printed publications intended primarily for persons over 18 years of age, and within sales outlets.

I have on a number of occasions indicated my support for a total ban on the advertising of tobacco products. Such a ban is an integral part of effective anti-tobacco strategy. The matter of a ban throughout member states of the European Union has been under discussion by the Council of Health Ministers for some time now. However, progress to date has been slow.

While I favour a ban I would not see merit in Ireland acting unilaterally as we are particularly vulnerable to overspill advertising in magazines, etc., from the United Kingdom and elsewhere. A ban on advertising in Irish publications would, in such circumstances, put Irish companies at a disadvantage to foreign competitors.

There is a commitment contained in "Shaping a Healthier Future", the Government's Health Strategy, to reduce advertising and sponsorship of tobacco by 5 per cent per year. Discussions will be held shortly with the tobacco companies about the implementation of this proposal.