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Parliamentary questions
7 May 2010
Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission

The Commission passed mandate M/425 on the fire safety of cigarettes to CEN (Comité Européen de Normalisation) in 2008, and requested delivery of a relevant standard within two years. The standard should be ready around August/September 2010. The standard should ensure that ‘No more than 25 % of a batch of cigarette specimens to be tested shall burn through their whole length’. With all cigarettes in the EU fulfilling this fire safety requirement, the Commission estimates that one to two human lives could be saved every day. This is why the Commission has been insisting, and will continue to do so, that the standard is delivered on time.

This fire safety requirement is applied in virtually all states of the United States, beginning with New York State in June 2004. Canada applies it since October 2005, and Australia is introducing it into legislation.

The testing method to check cigarettes for compliance with this fire safety requirement is currently being finalised by ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation), following an earlier request by CEN, on the basis of the existing ASTM E2187-04 standard. That standard is applied by all Reduced Ignition Propensity (RIP) cigarette legislation existing in the world. The Commission expects ISO to conclude its work very soon so that CEN can include the testing method in the requested standard.

Under the current timeline, the standardisation bodies in the Member States will have six months, after publication of the standard by CEN, to transpose the published European (‘EN’) standard into national standards. In about the same time, the Commission will, with the support of the Member States and under the right of scrutiny of the Parliament, check the quality of the standard and, if acceptable, publish a reference for it in the Official Journal.

The referenced standard will then provide the presumption of safety for any cigarette manufactured in compliance with it. In case of non-compliance, a cigarette will not be considered safe. It will thus not comply with the ‘general safety requirement’ of Directive 2001/95/EC on general product safety (GPSD)(1), namely that ‘Producers shall be obliged to place only safe products on the market’(2). Member State authorities will then be able to take action on such cigarettes, for example withdraw them from the market.

(1)OJ L 11, 15.1.2002.
(2)Article 3(1) of the GPSD.

OJ C 138 E, 07/05/2011
Last updated: 17 May 2010Legal notice