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Parliamentary questions
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19 June 2018
Question for written answer E-003332-18
to the Commission
Rule 130
Philippe Lamberts (Verts/ALE)

 Subject:  Tobacco Products Directive and the planned ban on menthol cigarettes
 Answer in writing 

The purpose of Directive 2014/40/EU on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco (the Tobacco Products Directive) is to better protect consumers, particularly young people, by taking into account new scientific knowledge and legislating on new tobacco products (including e-cigarettes) on the market. Specifically, it bans the sale of menthol cigarettes from 20 May 2020.

Tobacco use is the most common cause of premature death in the EU. On average, 700 000 smokers die each year and smokers die 14 years earlier than non-smokers. That figure is almost 20 times higher than the number of premature deaths caused by fine particulate nitrogen oxide emissions, the dangers of which came to light during the ‘dieselgate’ scandal. Of people aged between 15 and 24 years old, 29% are smokers.

The Belgian press has reported that the Commission is threatening to bring legal action against the Belgian Government because it is seeking to ban the sale of those products before 2020.

In doing so, the Commission would be putting the commercial interests of manufacturers before the public health interests of EU citizens. What is its justification for that stance?

Is the Commission’s position not contrary to Article 9 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which provides that ‘in defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union shall take into account requirements linked to (…) a high level of (…) protection of human health’?

Original language of question: FR 
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