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Tobacco advertising and sponsorship



Directive 2003/33/EC on advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products


It regulates tobacco* advertising* and promotion in the printed media, on radio, in information society services and through tobacco-related sponsorship.


  • Press and printed publications: advertising is banned except for publications intended exclusively for the tobacco trade, or those printed and published outside the EU and not intended for an EU audience.
  • Radio: all forms of advertising are banned. Programmes may not be sponsored by companies whose main activity is the manufacture and sale of tobacco.
  • Sponsorship: this is banned for all events and activities involving or taking place in more than one EU country. The ban extends to the free distribution of tobacco products.
  • The legality of the directive was confirmed by the Court of Justice of the European Union in December 2006.
  • In May 2008, the European Commission published a report on the directive’s implementation.
  • Additional rules for audiovisual media services complement the directive by banning advertising and product placement of tobacco products on television and through on-demand services (e.g. services that allow viewers to watch a programme when they choose because it is, for example, available on the broadcaster’s website).
  • In addition to this, a non-binding Council recommendation urges EU governments to take various measures to limit advertising in their countries, including:
    • banning promotional practices such as offering ashtrays, lighters and price discounts,
    • banning local tobacco advertising on billboards, at points of sale and in cinemas,
    • requiring manufacturers, importers and large-scale traders to provide information on their spending on advertising, marketing, sponsorship and promotion campaigns not banned by EU legislation.
  • Directive 2014/40/EU extended the EU rules on tobacco advertising and promotion to electronic cigarettes.


It has applied since 20 June 2003. EU countries had to incorporate it into national law by 3 July 2005.


Tobacco products: all products, even partly containing tobacco, intended to be smoked, sniffed, sucked or chewed.

Advertising: any form of commercial communication that aims, directly or indirectly, to promote tobacco products.


Directive 2003/33/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 May 2003 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to the advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products (OJ L 152, 20.6.2003, pp. 16-19)

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2003/33/EC have been incorporated in to the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive) (OJ L 95, 15.4.2010, pp. 1-24)

Consolidated version

Directive 2014/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products and repealing Directive 2001/37/EC (OJ L 127, 29.4.2014, pp. 1-38)

Consolidated version

Council Recommendation 2003/54/EC of 2 December 2002 on the prevention of smoking and on initiatives to improve tobacco control (OJ L 22, 25.1.2003, pp. 31-34)

last update 25.07.2016