Led by Poland, which also happens to be one of Europe s biggest tobacco producers, a bloc of former Communist countries is fighting a rear guard action against the measures, hoping at least to save slim cigarettes, which are popular with many smokers, often women.

The concern of the rule drafters is that slim cigarettes add an allure that attracts young women to smoking and that menthol cigarettes make it easier for young people of both sexes to start, and be hooked on, smoking.

But Poland stands to lose tobacco industry jobs from the proposed law. Some Polish politicians also worry about seeming highhanded to their sizable number of smokers, an estimated one third of the population.

It s about freedom, to a large extent, said Roza Grafin von Thun und Hohenstein, a center right Polish member of the European Parliament, who is known as Roza Thun.

Ms. Thun said she supported the health impulses behind the draft legislation, but after listening to objections from voters at a meeting in Krakow she decided the rules should be relaxed. People said, When are you going to prohibit us from drinking wine or vodka, or stop us using white sugar? Maybe you will also tell us to go to bed early because going to bed late is also unhealthy.

The proposed rules would also require that pictures of smoking related medical problems and written health warnings cover 75 percent of the front and the back of cigarette packs. This provision, though, may be scaled back after haggling among the European health ministers who will be debating the rules in Brussels.

Any new regulations would require the approval of the European Parliament before becoming law.

Tobacco has been a troublesome issue for the European Union s executive arm, the European Commission, which has run public health campaigns to cut smoking but only recently removed direct agricultural subsidies for growing tobacco.

In December, the commission came up with the proposed tobacco rules. They are supported by Ireland, which holds the European Union s rotating presidency and argues that the legislation would save lives and money.

Approximately 700,000 Europeans die every single year of tobacco related causes, Ireland s health minister, James Reilly, said in a speech this year. Smoking is the largest avoidable health risk in Europe, causing more problems than alcohol, drug abuse and obesity.

The public health care cost attached to smoking in Europe is an estimated 25.3 billion euros ($33.4 billion) each year, Mr. Reilly said. He cited recent studies showing that 70 percent of smokers in Europe began their habit before age 18.

A particular worry behind the proposal is that thinner or menthol flavored cigarettes look and taste less harmful than others, giving people a misleading impression that they are safer.

In Poland, menthol cigarettes make up 18 percent of cigarette consumption, with slim cigarettes adding an additional 14 percent, according to the Polish government.

I think we should not be too dogmatic, Ms. Thun said. We are dealing with human beings, their addictions and their habit. We should help the younger generation not to smoke, but I think we won t achieve anything with a hard line.

Przemyslaw Noworyta, director of the association that represents Polish tobacco growers, said the industry supported 60,000 jobs, many in areas with little alternative employment. Only Italy grows more tobacco in Europe than Poland.

For us tobacco growers, this is a catastrophe, Mr. Noworyta said, adding that demand would simply switch to the black market.

A study by the firm Roland Berger, commissioned by Philip Morris International, predicted that if the legislation passed, the European Union would lose 70,000 to 175,000 jobs and that the black market would thrive.

The report also projected a drop in tax revenue in the European Union of 2.2 billion to 5 billion euros.

Particularly strong effects will occur in countries with large tobacco sectors, such as Germany, France and Poland, the report said. Countries with high demand for slim or menthol cigarettes, such as Bulgaria or Poland, will experience disproportionate losses.

Eu to ban menthol cigarettes » wtf rly report

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December 22, 2012

December 22, 2012

EU Times

Flavoured cigarettes, including menthol, strawberry, or vanilla, are set to be banned in the European Union. The EU health commissioner also wants to make pictorial warnings occupy 75 per cent of the pack. The draft legislation on measures to curb smoking were unveiled on Wednesday. However, they still need to be approved by EU governments and the European parliament, which could take up to three years. The legislation would ban cigarettes with characterizing flavour , such as menthol, strawberry, or vanilla, and will also make pictorial health warnings mandatory and bigger, covering at least 75 per cent of the pack. Finally, the draft also includes plans to ban slim cigarettes and the sale of packs containing less than 20 cigarettes.

We re not prohibiting smoking we re making it less attractive for everyone, said Tonio Borg of the health commission. Sometimes you need shocking pictures to shock people into stopping smoking. Glenis Wilmott, Labour leader in the European parliament, told the Guardian Cigarette packets should look like they contain a dangerous drug, rather than perfume or lipstick. She also proposed additional measures to curb smoking in the EU, We need to get rid of all branding from cigarette packets, as it is the only space that the tobacco industry has left to market their products.

The initiative follows the resignation of the previous EU health commissioner John Dalli, who was accused of sleaze by Swedish tobacco lobbyists. He allegedly agreed to help lift an EU ban on a Swedish smoke free substance called Snus. Dalli denied any wrongdoing, and went to court over the matter. Cigarette sales in the European Union have fallen drastically over the last years. However, the proportion of smokers still stands at 33 per cent of the adult population, higher than any other region, according to the World Health Organization. 700,000 people die in the EU every year from smoking related diseases, and the cost to treat them amounts to 25 billion per year, according to the European commission s data.

Tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable death across the UK, Europe and the world. One in two long term smokers is killed by tobacco, and the smoking rate amongst young women is on the rise, Glenis Wilmott pointed out.


Via EU Times


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