Sunday

22nd Apr 2018

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).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Investigation

MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes

MEPs are using so-called 'friendship groups' to cater to foreign governments without oversight and little public scrutiny. Initially set up to promote cultural exchanges, some have become lobbying platforms to push state views from governments with poor human rights records.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists