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Tobacco advertising ban revisited

LONDON - After the outcry that followed the tobacco advertising and promotion bill being omitted from the Queen's speech, ministers are preparing to backtrack and introduce a bill after all.

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Health and cancer charities hit out at the government after it dropped the idea earlier this year. Further embarrassment was caused when a bill banning tobacco advertising was brought forward in the Scottish Parliament.

The government has hinted at plans to introduce a bill after Dr Desmond Turner, Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, planned to introduce a private member's bill. Whips have put pressure on Turner not to go ahead with his bill.

Dr Turner said, "I would be very happy not to proceed with the bill if the government goes ahead with it, but I would like a cast-iron reassurance that they will do. For me, the reason for getting this bill through this session, rather than next, is you can immediately start counting the number of lives that can be saved."

Thirty-one Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs kept up pressure by tabling a Commons motion calling for an early ban, saying this would cut the 120,000 deaths caused each year by smoking.

Labour MP Kevin Barron said, "There is no logic to the government's position. Its own anti-smoking campaigns are being undermined by the tobacco companies spending £100m a year on promoting smoking. The sooner that contradiction is ended, the better."

The bill would aim to ban cigarette advertising on billboards, shop fronts and in the media, as well as sports sponsorship.

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