Doctors demand ban on cigarette advertising in Germany

Jill PetzingerJill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
A tobacco ad poster on an underpass in Düsseldorf, Germany. Photo: Horst Ossinger/Picture alliance via Getty
A tobacco ad poster on an underpass in Düsseldorf, Germany. Photo: Horst Ossinger/Picture alliance via Getty

Germany is the only country in the European Union where cigarette advertising is still allowed. The country’s doctors this week have renewed calls for it to be finally banned completely.

"The protracted discussion on billboard advertising is dismal," Klaus Reinhardt, president of the German Medical Association told the German Press Agency. "It is incomprehensible that we are the last country in the EU to have still not fully enforced the advertising ban."

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While Germany has banned cigarette advertising on TV, radio, and in print, but tobacco manufacturers can still advertise on billboards or in cinemas. Cigarette packaging has also carried shocking pictures of, for example, diseased lungs, since 2016.

While the numbers are falling, around 23% of Germans still smoke, according to 2018 data.

"You cannot accommodate the industry,” Reinhardt said. “Smoking is harmful, full stop." He noted that young people are particularly susceptible to the smoking ads.

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The medical association wants the total ban on cigarette advertising to include e-cigarettes.

Despite the country’s pledge to to implement a total ban on all forms of cigarette marketing by 2010, Germany has a strong smoking lobby and the government has been dragging its feet endlessly over when a total advertising ban should finally be implemented.  

According to 2018 data, around 23% of Germans still smoke. Last month, Germany’s drug commissioner also called for a ban on posters advertising cigarettes in public places, including vaping products.

"We're seeing that the use of e-cigarettes is clearly increasing, especially among teenagers and young adults," drugs commissioner Daniela Ludwig said. "This trend has to be stopped."

Tobias Welte, president of the European Respiratory Society described Germany as  a ‘developing country’ when it comes to tobacco regulation.

“In Germany, the protection of the population has no lobby, and the influence of the tobacco industry is too dominant,” Welte told Euractiv last month. “In the US, England, New Zealand, and Australia, tobacco regulation is much more advanced.”

Currently the government is discussing an outdoor cigarette-ad ban from the start of 2022, and a cinema-ad ban from the start of 2021.

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