EU Rejects Planned Restriction on Tobacco Products

Health ministers from the European Union have rejected planned restrictions on tobacco products that were proposed this month. Some of the governments in the European Union strongly opposed the draft rules and convinced the EU not to authorise them.

The European Commission had proposed a ban on all slim cigarette products throughout the EU but the health ministers did not condone this act. There was some compromise in the form of a regulation stating that slim cigarettes must now be sold in regulation sized cigarette packets in a bid to reduce their appeal.

Furthermore, menthol cigarettes and other tobacco flavourings have also been outlawed by the European Commission. This is a bid to ensure that tobacco products are not projected as other products. Maltese commissioner, Tonio Borg, explained: “The main thrust is that tobacco should look like tobacco – not like perfume or candy – and that it should taste like tobacco as well.”

The planned restrictions have divided the 27-nation EU almost in half with western Europe favouring tightened controls facing stiff opposition from the eastern European countries led by Poland who oppose the proposed regulations. Poland’s authorities are concerned that the country will suffer due to a negative impact that these regulations will have on tobacco industry jobs.

Another proposal that was rejected by the Health Ministers was the plan to restrict packaging branding to 25%, leaving 75% of the packaging to be covered with written and graphic visual warnings. In a compromise the Health Ministers will allow the brands to utilise 35% of the packaging to be used for branding. Last month Ireland became the first country in the EU to implement a complete brand on packaging branding, following the lead of Australia.

These regulations that have been decided upon are subject to finalisation of the European Parliament elections and could come into effect in 2016. So your local tobacco store will continue to look the same for a couple of years yet.

Fortunately many products such as pipe tobacco will not be affected greatly by the new regulations. One product that will be heavily regulated will be the electronic cigarette should these proposals go ahead. From 2016, electronic cigarettes will be regulated as medicinal products and subjected to significant tests and trials.

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