Tobacco Cos. Block British Ad Ban
Tobacco companies won a court order Friday to prevent the government from banning advertising.
The government, which planned to start phasing in the ban on Dec. 10, said it would appeal.
The Tobacco Manufacturers Association and major companies -- Imperial, Gallaher, Rothmans UK and British American Tobacco -- argued that the ban should not be imposed while they are still pursuing a legal challenge through European courts.
High Court Justice Michael Turner ruled that it was ``strongly arguable'' that the tobacco companies would succeed in their European court case. A judgment is expected late next year.
The government argued that the ban should be introduced as soon as possible in the interest of public health.
The companies, however, contended that there was no urgency, because advertising only affected consumer choice of brands and did not encourage anyone to smoke.
``It is a pity that we had to take this action,'' said Paul Sadler of Imperial Tobacco.
``We have cooperated fully for many years, in operating a system of voluntary agreements, and hope that effective dialogue between manufacturers and government can now be reinstated.''