“Poland will not support the draft directive on tobacco,” said Health Ministry spokesman Krzysztof Bak, in an interview with Polish Radio.

“We are taking into account the consequences,” he added.

The Health Ministry had been instructed to prepare a document outlining the government’s stance on the matter, but was obliged to draw on opinions from the ministries of agriculture, finance and the economy.

In spite of the Health Ministry’s reference to 90,000 deaths in Poland per year as a result of smoking related diseases, the opinions of the other ministries proved decisive.

The Ministry of Agriculture outlined that Poland is the largest exporter of tobacco products in the EU.

Revenues from these exports amount to 36 percent of those for all agricultural and food related products.

Meanwhile, budget revenues in 2012 for taxes on tobacco products amounted to 20 million zloty (4.7 million euro).

In December, after the European Commission passed a proposal for the directive, Polish tobacco growers and cigarette manufacturers sent a letter to Prime Minister Donald Tusk, calling for the government to oppose the legislation.

“Polish tobacco growers will suffer, and the elimination of many plantations as well as reduced orders will mean corporations making redundancies,” wrote head of the Polish Tobacco Association Przemys aw Noworyta, as cited by the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

The draft directive is intended “to deter young people from starting to smoking,” according to Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg, as quoted by the Europolitics daily.

Besides banning cigarettes that are supposedly “too attractive”, the draft legislation also seeks to ensure that cigarette packets carry health warnings that cover 75 percent of the front of each packet.

The Ministry of Agriculture has called on the government to form a coalition of EU member states that are against the ban.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry has forecast that if the legislation is passed, work on the directive will take about two years, and the prospective changes would not come into force until late 2014 or 2015. (nh)

Breaking news: eu votes to ban ecigs, keep tobacco cigarettes legal and keep collecting tobacco taxes

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If all the smokers in Britain stopped smoking cigarettes and started smoking e cigarettes we would save 5 million deaths in people who are alive today. It s a massive potential public health prize.

Professor John Britton, chair of the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians Source BBC

Unfortunately, the EU chose not to listen to Professor John Britton, or their own legal committee which advised that EU plans were illegal, and voted today to make electronic cigarettes a medicine while allowing cigarettes to be freely sold.

(Above, balloons being burst to signify the lives lost if a ban goes ahead. Taken from Dick Puddlecote’s account of his trip to Brussels to protest against the ban.)

Let’s recap

  • electronic cigarettes, which could save five million British lives, will be restricted and regulated as a medicine
  • the technology to comply with medical regulations doesn’t exist, although one company spent two years and millions of dollars trying to comply
  • if a product can be created which complies, it will probably be a disposable type with a single flavour (each flavour will require a separate licence, which could cost over a million pound each, and will have to be renewed yearly)
  • tobacco cigarettes, which scientists estimate kill between one third and half of all users, will continue to be freely available

Chris Davies, who with Rebecca Taylor and many other British MEPs had campaigned hard against the legislation, tweeted

The Fight Goes On

Let’s not forget that the EU’s own legal opinion is that this legislation is illegal.

The EU legal committee voted against the legislation for that reason, and Sir Francis Jacob QC, former Advocate General to the European Court of Justice describes the proposed ban on e cigs as

an unreasonable measure which is liable to be annulled as being contrary to the principle of proportionality and/or the principle of non discrimination.

So the fight goes on!

Also see EU Committee Moves Forward to Medicinalize eCigarettes