Germany moves closer to tobacco advertising ban



German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc supported legislation banning smoking advertising in a policy paper released this week.

The bloc's parliamentary group on Tuesday endorsed the paper in a bid to act against what it described as the biggest avoidable health risk of the time.

Tobacco advertising on television and radio is already banned in Europe's biggest economy since 1975. Further restrictions were introduced in 2003 to prevent tobacco commercials in cinemas before 6:00 p.m, and on the internet, in magazines and newspapers in 2007.

The country made a commitment to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2005 to issue a "comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising" by 2010 but remains the only EU country that allows tobacco ads in cinemas and on posters.

Health advocates and politicians have long been vying for a prohibition on tobacco advertising. German drug commissioner Daniela Ludwig, last month called for a ban on outdoor tobacco ads, which she said should include cigarettes and all vapor products.

"You cannot accommodate the industry here. Smoking is harmful, period," said the president of the German Medical Association Klaus Reinhardt last month.

A new study suggests that cigarette use is gradually dropping in Germany, but vaping is becoming increasingly popular.

Longstanding opposition

The country's ruling conservative bloc has previously been against such a move. It, however, now has dropped its opposition as Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the CSU, have supported the plan to phase out tobacco advertising in outdoor areas from 2022.

The paper calls for a ban on cigarette advertising in cinemas from 2021, on tobacco burning or heating product ads from 2023, and e-cigarette ads from 2024.

Once the proposed ban takes effect, ads will still be permitted at national sporting events and inside tobacco shops.

The campaigners, however, have called for more efforts to safeguard the youth.

Germany environmentalist Green Party said the proposed modifications are not enough, calling for a ban e-cigarette advertising earlier than 2023.

According to the global Tobacco Atlas, 124,800 people die of the tobacco-caused disease in Germany every year.

More than 110,000 children (10-14 years old) and 15,341,000 adults (15+ years old) continue to use tobacco each day, it says.

The WHO says that comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship reduce the consumption of tobacco products, including among young people.

Article 13 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) obliges Parties to the Convention to implement a comprehensive ban (or restrictions) on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship.