§ Mr. Peter Ainsworth
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many meetings he has had with the task force set up to find alternatives to tobacco sponsorship of sporting events. 
§ Mr. Banks
[holding answer 29 October 1998]: The EU Tobacco Directive provides up to three years for domestic legislation to be implemented, and a further two years for the ban on sports sponsorship by tobacco companies to be enforced. Up to a further three years may be allowed in exceptional circumstances for existing sponsorship of events organised at a global level, provided 318W sponsorship levels and associated advertising are reduced. It is against this timescale that the Task Force will work. I will chair the Task Force to help all sports in receipt of tobacco sponsorship to identify alternative sponsors.
The Task Force has not yet been formally constituted, although I have had an initial informal meeting with sports and business interests and will hold a further meeting later this year when the current exercise to collect sponsorship information from the sports concerned should be completed.