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Europe launches new attack on tobacco advertising

LONDON - The European Commission has launched a new draft law that proposes to ban almost all tobacco advertising in the EU, seven months after a court ruled a previous ban illegal.

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The ban could be in force by the end of 2004 and, along with an EU law introducing hard-hitting health warnings on cigarette packets passed earlier this year, could cut the EU's number of smokers down from one third of the population to 20%.

The new draft law has dropped cinema, poster and "indirect" advertising from its remit after a previous attempt in 1998 was overturned last October by the European Court of Justice, saying such local media could be dealt with either nationally or at a more local level.

Instead, the new draft law focuses on cross-border media such as newspapers, broadcasting, internet and sponsorship. Television advertising is already banned in the EU.

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