Thursday

26th May 2022

Menthol cigarette ban is valid, says EU court

  • The court upheld a ban on menthol cigarettes, despite Polish objections (Photo: Piotr Drabik)

The European Union acted within its powers when it adopted rules on menthol cigarettes, packaging and electronic cigarettes, the Court of Justice has ruled, dismissing complaints from Poland and tobacco multinationals.

“The extensive standardisation of packaging, the future EU-wide prohibition on menthol cigarettes and the special rules for electronic cigarettes are lawful,” the Luxembourg-based court said in a press release on Wednesday (4 May).

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

The court ruled in three separate cases, all related to the revised directive on tobacco products, which entered into force two years ago.

The first case was an attempt by Poland to overturn an EU-wide ban on menthol cigarettes, which will come into force in 2020.

The idea behind the ban is that pleasant flavours like menthol make tobacco products more attractive especially to young smokers.

Menthol cigarettes are more popular in Poland than in most EU countries. Poland also has roughly 60,000 people working in tobacco farms.

Poland said that national rules on cigarette flavourings were not so different from each other, but the court rejected its claim.

“There were significant divergences between the regulatory systems of the member states, given that some of them had established different lists of permitted or prohibited flavourings, whilst others had not adopted any specific rules on the matter,” the court said.

“Consequently, the court considers that such a prohibition facilitates the smooth functioning of the internal market for tobacco and related products and is at the same time appropriate for ensuring a high level of protection of human health, especially for young people."

The court also ruled on two cases that were referred from the British courts, where tobacco companies Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco had requested a review of the legality of the directive.

The directive includes standardisation of labelling and packaging of tobacco products, and a ban on promotional texts. It also allows member states to introduce so-called plain packaging.

The court ruled that standardisation was intended “to protect consumers against the risks associated with tobacco use and [the decision] does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve the objective pursued”.

Finally, the court also said new rules on electronic cigarettes were proportional and legitimate.

The new rules require manufacturers to ensure e-cigarettes do not pass a maximum level of nicotine, and to report ingredients of new products to member states, as well as to report annually about sales volumes of e-cigarettes.

EU states 'unlikely to block new tobacco deal'

Diplomatic sources from over half of the EU member states say they broadly back renewing an anti-smuggling agreement with tobacco firm PMI, which will expire in July.

Opinion

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

Opinion

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us