HC Deb 05 March 2003 vol 400 cc1107-8W
Mr. Whittingdale

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what his policy is towards the sponsorship of darts championships by tobacco companies; and if he will make a statement; [97797]

(2) what measures the Government is taking to assist the British Darts Organisation to find alternative sources of sponsorship; [97798]

(3) if the Government will extend the transitional arrangements for the sponsorship by tobacco companies to cover the World Professional Darts Championship; and if he will make a statement. [97796]

Ms Blears

[holding answer 13 February 2003]: The Government has looked very carefully at how best to achieve an end to tobacco advertising and promotion including the prohibition of tobacco sponsorship, where the purpose or effect is to promote a tobacco product, whilst at the same time considering those who currently hold tobacco sponsorship agreements. A phased approach has been adopted to the introduction of the prohibition.

All new sponsorship agreements where the purpose or effect is to promote a tobacco product will be prohibited from 14 February 2003. Existing agreements which were in place on 11 July 2001 or have been renewed since then will have until either 30 July 2003 or until 31 July 2005 before being prohibited, so long as they meet criteria specified in The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Sponsorship) Transitional Regulations 2003. One of the criteria for qualifying for the 31 July 2005 extension is that tobacco sponsorship agreements need to have been to the value of £2.5 million in the 12 months ending 11 July 2001. The regulations were drawn up following a public consultation which ended on 15 November 2002. The British Darts Organisation responded to that consultation.

The Government does not intend to amend the regulations relating to tobacco sponsorship, and in particular exceptional global events, but does want to work with those sports that do not qualify for the 2005 extension to seek alternative sources of funding.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has recently met representatives from the English Pool Association and World Snooker Ltd. to discuss the progress those sports have made in their efforts to find alternative sponsorship. DCMS will remain available to meet other individual sports to provide advice and discuss any concerns they may have during the transition away from tobacco sponsorship.