To link to this article, copy this persistent link

(Jul 23, 2013) On July 10, 2013, the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment and Public Health endorsed new, stricter rules on cigarette distribution and marketing previously put forward by the European Commission. The new proposed directive is designed to make smoking less attractive to youth by prohibiting the use of “characterized” flavors, such as strawberry or menthol, in tobacco products. In addition, it bans the use of caffeine and vitamins, although it allows the addition of sugar. (Public Health Committee MEPs Toughen Up Plans to Deter Young People from Smoking, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT/NEWS (July 10, 2013).)

The Committee proposed two significant amendments to the draft directive

(a) a requirement that health warnings cover 75% of both sides of a cigarette pack and

(b) a prohibition of slim cigarettes of a diameter of less than 7.5mm, and of “lipstick packs,” the pretty packaging in which such cigarettes are marketed. (Id.)

With regard to the labeling or packaging of any tobacco product, the draft directive provides that the labeling must not give the impression to consumers that a particular tobacco product is less harmful than others and the package must not look like a food item or a cosmetic product. (Id.)

The draft directive also addresses e cigarettes, and provides that they may only be placed on the market under the existing rules on medicinal products. However, because e cigarettes may aid consumers to cease smoking, the proposed directive allows European Union (EU) Members to make them available in establishments other than pharmacies. (Id.)

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), an EU consultative body, in its opinion adopted on July 11, 2013, argued that the Commission’s proposal as amended by the Committee’s new rules may have a negative impact on the tobacco industry and related employment opportunities. The opinion notes that the tobacco industry is an important economic sector, especially in rural areas, of several EU Member States, with approximately 1.5 million people employed in it. (EU Tobacco Review Striking the Right Balance Between Economy, Health and Jobs, EESC website (July 11, 2013).)

The EESC specifically objected to the draft directive’s provision that 75% of both sides of a cigarette package be covered with a health warning, citing a lack of definitive scientific evidence to justify such a measure. Moreover, it opined that the change in the packaging will endanger jobs in the packaging sector, which is also an important economic sector in several Member States. (Id.)

The EESC further argued that the draft directive may have an adverse impact on the legitimate intellectual and industrial rights of manufacturers to use their trademarks. Nevertheless, the EESC, acknowledging that smoking is a serious public health hazard, agreed with the Commission that the health and safety of consumers should take priority over economic considerations, and stressed the importance of educational programs on the dangers of smoking for children and young adults. (Id.)

Author Theresa Papademetriou More by this author Topic Tobacco and smoking More on this topic Jurisdiction European Union More about this jurisdiction

Search Legal News
Find legal news by topic, country, keyword, date, or author.

Global Legal Monitor RSS
Get the Global Legal Monitor delivered to your inbox. Sign up for RSS service.

The Global Legal Monitor is an online publication from the Law Library of Congress covering legal news and developments worldwide. It is updated frequently and draws on information from the Global Legal Information Network, official national legal publications, and reliable press sources. You can find previous news by searching the GLM.

Last updated 07/23/2013

European ministers agree to stricter tobacco laws –

Electronic cigarette supplies & electronic cigarette refills for name-brand electronic cigarettes! e-cigs from litecigusa

LONDON Cigarette packs in Europe would have to carry bigger health warnings, and cigarettes with menthol or other flavorings face a total ban, under an agreement that European Union ministers struck on Friday after spirited negotiations.

A small group led by Poland won a reprieve for slim cigarettes, which are popular among female voters in several formerly Communist nations and had also been considered for a ban.

The agreement is not the final decision, as the new tobacco rules require approval by the European Parliament before being put into effect. But the compromise was a milestone because it secured the support of national governments, including some that had fought hard to soften measures opposed by the tobacco industry and some smoker advocacy groups.

The measures reflect a concerted effort by European policy makers to reduce the attractiveness of tobacco to young people in hopes of preventing them from taking up a habit notoriously hard to kick. Cigarettes with menthol and other flavorings are considered easier for novices to smoke.

Under the deal, a health warning combining pictures and text must cover 65 percent of the front and back of all cigarette packs. That represents a reduction from the proposal going into the meeting of a 75 percent minimum, but it is an increase from the current 40 percent figure.

James Reilly, the health minister of Ireland, which holds the European Union s rotating presidency, said at a news conference in Luxembourg that about 700,000 Europeans die every year of tobacco related causes and that smoking is one of the greatest preventable and avoidable threats to health. Packaging that appeals to younger smokers, he said, was tantamount to entrapment of our young people.

The health ministers also agreed on regulation of electronic cigarettes, requiring authorization by relevant agencies in the member states before exceeding a certain nicotine threshold.

Currently, only some of the European Union nations apply such restrictions on electronic cigarettes, which produce vapors from a nicotine liquid rather than burning tobacco. But Tonio Borg, the European commissioner in charge of health and consumer policy, said e cigarettes can give a false sense of security.

The debate over flavored cigarettes mirrors a longstanding discussion in the United States. In 2009, Congress passed a law prohibiting flavorings but exempted menthol after heavy lobbying by the tobacco industry. Although Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration the authority to ban menthol if this was deemed appropriate on health grounds, the F.D.A. has taken no action.

In Europe, a ban on menthol cigarettes would not go into effect for some time. National governments would have up to three years to carry out the rules after the new tobacco law came into force. And the rollout of the new law itself, if finally approved later this year, could take about 18 months, Mr. Borg said.

Slim cigarettes, which were exempted from the compromise on Friday, had been a target because of the fear that they attract young women to smoking.

Though slim cigarettes would still be legal, new packaging and health warning requirements would prevent their sale in the small packs in which they are currently sold. Tobacco should look like tobacco and not like a perfume or a candy, Mr. Borg said. And it should taste like tobacco.

In light of the compromises, antismoking campaigners expressed disappointment that the larger pictorial warnings were not made mandatory on all cigarette packs.

Florence Berteletti Kemp, director of the Smoke Free Partnership, a European organization that promotes tobacco control and research, described the outcome on Friday as disappointing.

Despite the formidable efforts of the Irish presidency, the agreement adopted goes against key measures such as large pictorial warnings, which cost nothing to governments but would better protect millions of European children, she said in a statement. It is outrageous to see so many concessions made to an industry that buys its wealth and influence by marketing a deadly product.