A new law to extend the ban on tobacco advertising was long overdue, but has been blocked by the conservative parties in recent years. Now the parties have given up their resistance and adopted a bill in the German parliament. The new law will come into force gradually, starting in 2021.
Unfairtobacco welcomes the new law, but criticizes the generous deadlines and exceptions for advertising opportunities for the tobacco industry. With a gradual introduction of the law from 2021 onwards, the protection of minors in particular is not taken into account.
The ban on outdoor tobacco advertising at places such as bus stops and advertising pillars will come into force in stages. On the positive side, tobacco heaters (advertising ban from 2023) and e-cigarettes (from 2024) will also be regulated by the law. However, the transition periods are too long – to curb tobacco consumption, especially among young people, a ban on outdoor advertising should come into force immediately.
The law also continues to allow advertising at point of sales as well as sponsoring and promotion by the tobacco industry. Therefore, the ban unfortunately is far from being comprehensive.
According to tobacco control expert Laura Graen, who was able to comment on the draft law at a hearing in the Bundestag on 29 June 2020, sponsoring and promotion already accounts for 60% of the tobacco industry’s advertising expenditure – and the trend is rising. This means that the industry reaches children and young people in particular. According to numerous studies, young people are specifically influenced by advertising.
Due to a lack of tobacco control, international human rights conventions and children’s rights are violated and disregarded, to which Germany is also committed. In general, Germany lags far behind other European countries in the implementation of tobacco control measures.
At least, starting in 2021 the tobacco industry is no longer allowed to distribute free samples at events and tobacco advertising in cinemas will be banned beforethe screening of movies for children and youth under 18.
In the past, the tobacco industry has been extremely creative in circumventing regulations and hindering their implementation. Tobacco companies especially take advantages from the weak regulations in social media and sponsoring when it comes to advertising. We will remain vigilant and expose the tobacco industry’s strategies.