Monday

21st May 2018

MEPs restrict child-friendly tobacco products

  • MEPs backed the bill to prevent young people from smoking (Photo: photos.de.tibo)

New EU-wide rules to curb smoking are likely to be adopted over the summer as MEPs backed a bill on Wednesday (26 February) to restrict tobacco use, flavourings, adverts, and the sale of electronic cigarettes.

With some 700,000 people dying of tobacco-related diseases every year in the EU, the plan is to prevent young people from picking up the habit in the first place. Around 94 percent of smokers are said to start before the age of 25.

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.

UK centre-left deputy Linda McAvan, who steered the file through the parliament, described the vote “as a big step forward for tobacco control.” She said it would help to prevent the next generation of smokers from being recruited.

Years of negotiations and intense lobbying have seen some of the European Commission’s original 2012 proposal watered down.

Despite the weakened text, parliament’s vote was still welcomed by anti-tobacco campaigners as an important contribution to saving lives.

“Today marks a genuine turning point for European tobacco control – and a huge stride towards a tobacco free Europe,” said Archie Turnbull, president of the Brussels-based Smoke Free Partnership.

The commission, for its part, had wanted an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes and slims, even larger warning labels, and to bolige people to get a doctor’s note to buy e-cigarettes.

The draft bill instead phases out menthols by 2020, reduces the warning labels on packs, and allows e-cigarettes to be sold without a prescription.

MEPs opted for the four-year delay on menthols because they are “consumed more by older smokers and less by younger people,” said an EU source close to the issue.

Others who called for an immediate ban argue menthols appeal to young people because chemicals suppress the cough reflex.

Poland, one of Europe’s largest tobacco producers, does not want the restrictions.

Philip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco, among others, dominate Poland’s tobacco industry. The country is one of the major producers of menthols sold in the EU.

A EU official said Warsaw is likely to reject the bill in mid-March when it comes up for a qualified majority vote among member states. But it means Poland’s lone vote will not be enough to stop it.

“There is no reason to believe why apart from Poland there would be sufficient other member states to block this,” said the source.

Polish centre-right MEP Roza Grafin von Thun und Hohenstein backed the phase out on menthols, but her office told this website that Poles object to the EU telling them what they can and cannot smoke. An estimated one-third of the population smoke.

The rules

The bill requires mandatory picture and text health warnings covering 65 percent of the front and the back of cigarette packs. Packs with fewer than 20 cigarettes cannot be sold.

Cigarettes and roll your own tobacco won’t be allowed to taste like chocolate and other similar flavors but exceptions are made for pipe tobacco, cigars, cigarillos and smokeless products.

Rules for the electronic cigarettes are more relaxed in what is seen as a triumph for the industry by some MEPs.

“They won a huge victory,” Swedish Green MEP Carl Schlyter, a vice chair on the EU parliament's health committee, told this website.

“All member states wanted them to be approved in the pharma logic because the purpose of e-cigarettes is to help people to stop smoking or have yet another alternative to stop smoking,” he added.

The parliament instead buckled under industry pressure to make them a consumer product, he said.

The final compromise allows companies to sell electronic cigarettes as normal products without any medical oversight, unless they specifically advertise them as a way to stop smoking.

EU commissioner for health Tonio Borg welcomed the new safety and quality control rules on the devices, which he says will protect consumers from harm.

EU lawmakers agree tobacco bill

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

Tobacco giant initiates EU court challenge

Tobacco giant Philip Morris International wants to challenge new EU rules on tobacco to see if it can get the stricter labelling requirements changed.

Feature

Resetting the gender balance through football

Many sports, like football, have been so heavily male-dominated at every level that women and girls have battled against poor odds to be treated as equals in the game. FIFA aims to change that.

EU takes step closer to 'posted workers' deal

Negotiators from the member states, EU Parliament and Commission reached a 'common understanding' to guarantee equal pay for equal work in the EU. They hope to reach a final agreement in June.

Opinion

Paying a high cost: EU's role in Spain's painful health cuts

The EU should either conduct, or ask states to conduct, human rights impact assessments of country-specific recommendations to ensure that the implementation of austerity measures does not result in reduced human rights protections.

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  2. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  3. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  4. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row
  5. EU takes six countries to court over air pollution
  6. New Catalan leader sworn in without reference to Spain
  7. Merkel and Putin revive dialogue in troubled times
  8. European companies putting Iran business on hold

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  2. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  3. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  4. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline
  5. Italian populists to defy EU debt rules
  6. Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures
  7. How France escaped EU legal action over chemical ban
  8. 'Connectivity' trumps enlargement at Balkans summit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  2. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  5. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  7. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  8. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight