April 12, 2006

EU to take Germany to court over tobacco ads: report

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany could face legal action for failing to implement a ban on advertising tobacco, a European Commissioner was quoted on Wednesday as saying.

"We have to wait until May 1 to assess the situation. But I am determined to bring the case to the Court of Justice without delay and will recommend this step to the Commission," Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou told Germany's Berliner Zeitung daily.

A decision on whether to proceed would be made at a meeting scheduled for June 28, he added.

"Germany and Luxembourg are the only nations which have still not passed any law," Kyprianou said in an interview. "Although Luxembourg is apparently in the process of doing it."

EU rules ban tobacco advertising in print media, on the radio and internet and at cross-border events or activities. Member states had until July 31, 2005 to introduce the EU rules into national law.

The Commission earlier this month began legal action against four EU countries for failing to ban tobacco advertisements at motor racing and other events, part of a wider campaign to crack down on smoking.

The Commission sent "letters of formal notice" to the Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary and Spain.