31st Jan 2023

MEPs crack down on cigarette advertising

  • MEPs shied away from a total ban on advertising (Photo: Kino Praxis)

Health warnings must cover at least 75 percent of the surface of cigarette packs, according to the European Parliament's public health committee.

In a bid to dissuade the young from taking up the habit, lawmakers voted on Wednesday and Thursday (10-11 July) to ban fashionable slim cigarettes with a diameter of less than 7.5 millimetres, as would flavoured cigarettes such as menthol and fruit flavoured. Packets with fewer than 20 cigarettes would be also prohibited, as would labels such as light and ultralight which imply that some products are less harmful.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

However, MEPs shied away from a total ban on advertising that would seen plain packs which are used in Ireland.

The vote follows a sustained lobbying effort of MEPs by the tobacco industry and public health organisation. Deputies tabled 1,360 amendments to the Commission proposal.

Corporate Europe Observatory, a transparency-promoting NGO, estimates that there are 97 full time tobacco lobbyists working in Brussels, with an annual lobbying budget of around €5.3 million. It also claimed that there were examples of MEPs tabling amendments very similar to off-the-peg amendments circulated to deputies from industry as suggested amendments.

Linda McAvan, the British labour MEP who is responsible for piloting the legislation through Parliament, was clear that her aim was to prevent new smokers. "The focus is to prevent the industry from recruiting new smokers among the young."

“There is a worrying drift: 29% of young people smoke.”

Karl Heinz Florenz, a German centre-right deputy, concurred. "The important thing is to turn young people off smoking. We do not need plain packaging to do that," he said.

MEPs are expected to debate the legislation in September before seeking a deal with ministers before the end of 2013.

But Michael Jaeger, General Secretary of the Taxpayers Association of Europe, described the demands of MEPs as "excessive" and "serious market interventions".

“Prevention is the right way, but interventions that destroy jobs unfoundedly and that lead to serious tax losses are wrong," he added.

Tobacco lobbying derails MEP vote

Intense tobacco lobbying in Brussels may have derailed a key vote among Euro-deputies to restrict the sale and distribution of the product.

EU lobby register still riddled with errors

The EU's lobby register remains riddled with errors, with pro-transparency campaigners demanding better data and mandatory rules. The latest findings come amid a raft of proposals by the European Parliament president to weed out corruption in the wake of Qatargate.


Democracy — is it in crisis or renaissance?

Countries that were once democratising are now moving in the other direction — think of Turkey, Myanmar, Hungary or Tunisia. On the other hand, in autocracies mass mobilisation rarely succeeds in changing political institutions. Think of Belarus, Iran or Algeria.

Latest News

  1. Democracy — is it in crisis or renaissance?
  2. EU lobby register still riddled with errors
  3. Polish backpedal on windfarms put EU funds at risk
  4. More money, more problems in EU answer to US green subsidies
  5. Study: EU electricity transition sped into high gear in 2022
  6. Russia and China weaponised pandemic to sow distrust, MEPs hear
  7. Frontex to spend €100m on returning migrants this year
  8. EU aims to simplify tax credits to counteract US green subsidies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us