Thursday

18th Oct 2018

EU lawmakers agree tobacco bill

  • E-cigarettes are a rapidly expanding market (Photo: lindsay-fox)

EU lawmakers reached an agreement on the new tobacco products bill after negotiators clashed on electronic cigarettes earlier in the week.

“It’s a happy day for anybody who wants to fight the use of tobacco,” EU commissioner for health Tonio Borg told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday (18 December).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The inter-institutional agreement means future health warning pictures are to cover 65 percent of cigarette packs and must appear on the top half of the pack. Packs with fewer than 20 cigarettes will be banned.

A ban on "characterising flavours,” such as vanilla, is to be upheld and will be extended to menthol in 2020.

Member states and the European Parliament had collided late Monday on how to best regulate e-cigarettes, a rapidly expanding industry said to be worth around €2 billion in the EU.

The talks stalled as EU diplomats on Tuesday refused to issue any official position while they ran over technical details to suss out safety concerns on the device.

Member states scaled back some of their initial demands, such as banning the sale of refillable cartridges, which currently account for much of the EU market.

They wanted a single-use e-cigarette, meaning the smoker would have to purchase a new one when the first one is empty.

Wednesday’s agreement means refillable cartridges for e-cigarettes would be allowed. But the commission could impose a blanket EU ban if at least three member states ban the refillables altogether.

The maximum permitted nicotine concentration level in the cartridge is set at 20 mg/ml, which is the equivalent to around a packet of normal cigarettes.

MEPs, for their part, were keen to keep the refillable model and say the safeguards are not justified on health grounds.

E-cigarettes will not be classified as medical products by the EU, but individual member states will be free to grant them the status if they want.

“Every member state can adopt more restrictive measures than those in the directive,” said Borg.

The co-legislators are set to vote on the bill next year before its adoption.

Amid the EU debate, industry giants, such as Philip Morris International, which owns the Marlboro brand, are looking for a big bang on e-smoking in 2014.

The firm recently said it will spend $100 million in research on “reduced-risk" products in 2014.

Swedish Green MEP Carl Schlyter, a vice chair on the EU parliament's health committee, told this website that Big Tobacco is not worried about the details of the EU rules.

“Whatever happens, it [e-smoking] will be profitable,” he said.

The bill was originally drafted by John Dalli, a Maltese politician who used to be the European Commission's health chief, but who left his job in 2012 in a lobbying scandal.

Dalli’s controversial dismissal led to allegations of insider moves to weaken the bill and undue influence of former commission officials working for tobacco-related law firms.

MEPs approve disputed tobacco law

The EU parliament has backed rules to tighten marketing and labelling of tobacco products, but the original proposal was weakened.

MEPs restrict child-friendly tobacco products

New EU-wide rules to curb smoking are likely over the summer, as MEPs backed a bill to restrict tobacco flavourings, adverts, and the sale of electronic cigarettes.

EU to propose scrapping summer time change

Based on the preliminary results of an online survey in which mostly Germans took part, the EU executive is proposing that the whole EU stops changing times in March and October.

Investigation

How to get around the EU posted workers directive

Some EU careworkers in Belgium receive around €400 a month - despite their carers paying €2,500 a month and paying for flights and accommodation. The answer lies in how firms can skirt the safeguards in the EU's posted workers directive.

News in Brief

  1. Rutte: summit was 'not the moment' for higher climate ambition
  2. Legal text for Brexit relocation EU agencies agreed
  3. Greek foreign minister resigns over Macedonia deal
  4. No Brexit backstop means no approval, says EU parliament
  5. Poland questions supremacy of EU court
  6. Medvedev to meet Juncker and Merkel in Brussels
  7. Italians and Czechs least favourable to remaining in EU
  8. Facebook hack set to be first major test of EU data rules

EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation

The EU Commission has received several million responses from citizens, businesses, and organisations on whether to end the daylight summertime savings. Any tangible change would take ... time.

Exclusive

Women shun EU-funded site for female entrepreneurs

Wegate.eu, which received €1.2m in EU money since its launch almost two years ago, has less than a thousand registered users - from a possible target audience of at least 10 million.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa
  2. EU leaders worried about Italy's budget
  3. Russian activist warning on 'fake news' as EU backs action
  4. Kaczynski: No question of Polish EU exit
  5. EU summit to accept urgency of climate action – but no measures planned
  6. MEPs demand more from EU on human rights in Asia
  7. EU migration solutions are on the table - let's adopt them
  8. No progress at Brexit summit, talks continue

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us