A ban on slim cigarettes and the use of flavourings in tobacco products were approved by the EP's public health committee on 10 July in a bid to make smoking less attractive for young people. The tougher rules also include a requirement for health warnings on every side of a cigarette pack, but leaves the door open for life-saving e-cigarettes. The new legislation should help to reduce the 700,000 people dying each year due to smoking, the EU's leading cause of preventable death.
Protecting the young
Linda McAvan, who wrote the draft recommendation, was clear about the proposal's aims: "The focus is to prevent the industry from recruiting new smokers among the young." The British member of the S&D group said in general the number of smokers was going down, adding: “There is a worrying drift: 29% of young people smoke.”
What could change
The public health committee amended the plans for an updated tobacco product directive to ban the use of additives and flavours such as menthol and strawberry in tobacco products as well as the use of vitamins, caffeine and taurine, as these seemed designed to attract young people.
Health warnings would have to be on all sides of a packet and cover at least 75% of both the front and the back. Slim cigarettes, meaning those with a diameter of less than 7.5 millimetres, and packets with fewer than 20 cigarettes would be prohibited, as would misleading labels such as light and ultralight suggesting that some products are less harmful.
E-cigarettes should be sold under existing rules on medicinal products, however member states should make sure they are also available outside pharmacies, because of their potential to help people stop smoking.
MEPs will debate the proposal during plenary on 9 September and vote on it the following day. The final version of the rules will have to be agreed with member states. The Council has already come to a political agreement, which will serve as the basis for its negotiations with Parliament.