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December 05, 1997 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-12-05

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14 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 5, 1997

European Union bans
tobacco advertising

Longtime tobacco.
supporter Bliley
subpoenas papers

Los Angeles Times
PARIS - Health ministers from
Western Europe, where smoking is
blamed for more than half a million pre-
mature deaths each year, overcame eight
years of deadlock yesterday, agreeing to
phase in a ban on tobacco advertising
}end sponsorship of sports and cultural
events by tobacco companies.
An estimated 40 percent of the adults
in the 15 European Union member
nations are smokers and cigarettes
retain a cachet and popularity on the
Continent that they have largely lost in
the United States.
"It's gone on for far too long,"
fEuropean Union Health Commissioner
Padraig Flynn of Ireland told reporters
bfore yesterday's key meeting of the
health ministers in Brussels, Belgium.
Tobacco companies - stung by regu-
lotions that could curb their maneuvering
in what has been a hugely lucrative mar-
ket and one with increasing importance
as the U.S. anti-smoking mood grows -
immediately denounced the ban.
They termed it an assault on free
speech and said it will not cut down on
,smoking. The Confederation of
,uropean Community Cigarette
Manufacturers, which includes Philip
-orris, R.J. Reynolds and British-
American Tobacco, issued a statement
vowing to "fight strenuously to protect
fhe fundamental rights of its members
to communicate directly with their

adult consumers."
After 12 hours of often tense and
stressful negotiations in the Belgian
capital, the ministers voted to eliminate
all tobacco advertising in six years and
all sponsorship of major arts and sports
events, such as Formula One motor rac-
ing and tennis tournaments, within
eight years, and in any case no later
than October 2006.
Under the European ban, which goes
much further than the U.S. ban on
tobacco ads on television and radio in
effect since the 1970s, most advertising
- including outdoor billboards -
must cease within three years. Ads in
media printed in Europe, including
newspapers and magazines, must end
within four years. Indirect advertising,
such as apparel bearing the name of
cigarette brands, would have to end
within six years.
U.S. anti-smoking groups cheered
the decision. "We're extremely happy
... (and) hopeful that it's going to make
a difference ... in terms of European
smoking rates," said William Novelli,
president of the National Center for
Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington, D.C.
Although more sweeping, the
European ban is not nearly as immedi-
ate as the advertising restrictions con-
tained in the proposed U.S. tobacco deal
announced last June 20. Under the
sweeping agreement - negotiated
among cigarette makers, state attorneys

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON - One of the
tobacco industry's longtime supporters
in Congress yesterday issued subpoe-
nas to force balky cigarette makers to
release a cache of sensitive internal
company documents.
"I'm going to make sure these docu-
ments see the light of day," Rep.
Thomas J. Bliley, R-Va., said in a state-
ment. "Congress must have these docu-
ments to do its job." He gave the indus-
try until noon today to comply with the
request for the documents.
The confrontation between Bliley
and the companies dramatically under-
scores the rising tensions between the
beleaguered industry and lawmakers,
who will consider national tobacco leg-
islation in the spring that could impose
strong new regulations on the industry
while protecting it against many law-
suits. '
Bliley's seeming turnaround mysti-
fies many observers on Capitol Hill and
leaves others skeptical. Philip Morris is
a potent force in Bliley's district, and
the company's Richmond plant
employs about 5,000 of his con-
stituents. According to the campaign

British Public Health Minister Tessa Jowedl speaks with French Health Minister
Bernard Koucher at the E.U. Health Council meeting yesterday in Paris.
general and private anti-tobacco allowed, but would be restricted to
lawyers - tobacco billboards and black-and-white in publications with
sponsorship of sporting and cultural significant teen-age readership.
events would be banned almost imme- Multibillion-dollar payments by tobac-
diately, as would caps, shirts and other co companies also would fund stop-
items carrying tobacco ogos. smoking programs and a huge anti-
Print advertising wou1d still be smoking ad campaign.

finance lobbying group Comm
Cause, Bliley has received more tobac-
co campaign contributions than any
other Hlouse member - more than
$133,000 since ]987.
Yet relations between the powerful
congressman and the industry have
been increasingly tense. The chairman
has expressed frustration that a tobacco
settlement proposed last summer did
not address the concerns of such grou
as retailers, according to one Blip
advisor, and he wanted to send a signal
to the industry that it will face compro-
mises ahead.
Other sources say Bliley wants the
documents released so that lawmakers
won't be blindsided by tobacco revela-
tions coming out after a bill passes.
Lawsuits against the industry have
alleged that the companies defrauded
the public by lying about the heag
effects of tobacco, addictiveness o
nicotine and more.
The subpoenas went out to the
nation's four largest tobacco companies
- Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown
& Williamson and Lorillard Inc. The
companies have said the documents are
protected by attorney-client privilege.
Last month Bliley stunned observers
by demanding that the industry turn
over the trove of papers, which th
Liggett Group Inc. said it would releaiW-
after reaching its own settlement earlier
this year. Those documents have
become the subject of a pitched court
battle in the lawsuit brought by the state
of Minnesota against the industry.
Echoing his statement from last
month, Bliley said yesterday that the
"American people must know the facts.
If the tobacco industry engaged in
criminal or fraudulent activities, th
Congress needs to know about the
activities before we consider granting
the industry unprecedented immunity
from future lawsuits."
Tobacco industry critics have long
accused the companies of abusing the.
legal doctrines designed to protect the'
confidentiality of attorney work and
communications between attorneys and
their clients.


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