BRUSSELS — The EU will be taking aim at Hollywood Saturday when it makes “tobacco free fashion and film” the theme for World No Tobacco Day in Brussels.
David Byrne, the head of health and consumer protection issues in the 15-nation bloc, is determined to make the close association between smoldering film stars and smoldering cigarettes a thing of the past. He commented: “Big tobacco firms use film and fashion as a means of promoting and marketing their products. Movie characters smoking onscreen often look cool and glamorous doing it.”
Arguing that this amounts to indirect marketing through product placement, he cited the words of screenwriter and producer Joe Eszterhas, who once said that a cigarette in the hands of a Hollywood star was a gun aimed at a 12-or 14-year-old. Byrne is urging Europe’s teens to see through the smokescreen and, in a reference to the latest Bond film in which 007 was seen chomping contentedly on a large cigar as Halle Berry emerged from the sea in front of him, tells them to choose to “Die another day.”
EU legislation bans tobacco ads on TV, a rule that will soon be extended to print media, radio and the Internet. Member states have until July 31, 2005 to comply. Brussels is also calling on European governments to force tobacco firms to reveal just how much they spend on marketing and to prevent indirect promotion. However, as EU executive arm the Commission does not actually have power in this area, it is powerless to enforce the recommendation.
Much will depend, then, on whether governments in the member states are prepared to take on the powerful tobacco lobby.