MEP Linda McAvan brokers a deal on the new Tobacco Products Directive
Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament welcome the new Tobacco Products Directive which will soon come into force following the decision this morning by the EU Council to back a deal reached with the European Parliament’s representatives last Monday.
Tobacco causes 700,000 deaths per year in the EU and the main aim of the new directive is to deter young people from taking up smoking.
The main European Parliament negotiator and S&D spokesperson on health, MEP Linda McAvan, said:
"We know that it is children, not adults, who start smoking: 70% of smokers begin before their 18th birthday, many younger still. A recent World Health Organisation survey among 15 year olds reveals a worrying upward trend since 2005. We need to stop tobacco companies targeting young people with an array of gimmicky products.”
The chairman of the parliamentary health committee, S&D MEP Matthias Groote, said:
"The next step is for this agreement to be formally approved in Council and in Parliament. It is close to our original position voted in October. We have a balanced text, which can deliver on its key objective: banning misleading flavours and products, and deterring young people from smoking. Member states are of course allowed to go further and implement plain packaging if they so wish. “
The new directive establishes that all cigarette packets should carry a health warning covering 65% of their surface, both on the front and the back. Packs of fewer than 20 cigarettes will be banned.
As proposed by the rapporteur Linda McAvan, electronic cigarettes should be regulated either as medicines or as tobacco products. If companies choose to make a claim that their e-cigarette helps smokers to quit, they will have to seek a medicines licence. In the case of e-cigarettes being put on the market as a consumer product, they should not contain nicotine in a concentration of more than 20 mg/ml. Refillable cartridges would be allowed in case such cartridges have been prohibited in at least three Member states, albeit with a clause enabling the Commission to extend the ban.
A single cartridge should contain the equivalent in nicotine of a pack of cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes should be childproof and should carry health warnings. They would be subject to the same advertising restrictions as tobacco products.
The text bans flavourings in cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco that would make the product more attractive by giving it a characterising flavour. Menthol should be banned from 2020. Flavours would be allowed for water pipes (Shisha).
A "priority list" list of additives allowed in cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco should be laid down by the European Commission. Additives essential to produce tobacco, such as sugar, would be authorised.