WITH menthol cigarettes to be banned
and cigarette packs sold with repulsive images of rotting lungs, the EU
released new anti-tobacco proposals yesterday, the first in more than a
But the proposals fall short of demands by many health campaigners
for a total ban on company branding and logos on packets, along the
lines of the plain packaging enforced this month in Australia.
kills half of its users and is highly addictive," said EU Health
Commissioner Tonio Borg, himself a former smoker. "We're not forbidding
smoking; we're aiming to make it less attractive.
Europeans die from tobacco-related illnesses each year, equal to the
population of Frankfurt or Palermo, and Mr Borg hopes to cut the bloc's
27 per cent of smokers by two percentage points in five years.
the habit most often acquired before the age of 25, the proposed
legislation particularly targets the young - hence a ban on flavoured
cigarettes, roll-your-own, or smokeless tobacco products.
"This proposal ensures that attractive packaging and flavourings are not used as a marketing strategy."
packaging, images of camels along with other well-known cigarette logos
will be gone in three to four years, the time it will take the 27 EU
states and the European parliament to approve the package of new rules.
will notably force tobacco companies to cover 75 per cent of packets
back and front with graphic health warnings and gruesome pictures of
diseased body parts.
The size of packs will be standardised and boxes of 10 banned "to ensure the full visibility of pictorial warnings".
Australia win an appeal now at the World Trade Organisation against its
plain packets, "it will open the way for others to follow suit", Mr
Borg said. The proposals state that "member states remain free to
introduce plain packaging in duly justified cases".
Public Health Alliance, a network of groups, welcomed the proposal but
regretted that "it fails to propose mandatory plain packaging", which is
seen as a key to prevent youngsters from lighting up their first
The group also asked whether this was "the beginning of the end of tobacco-industry led policy-making".
referred to a scandal over the EU's Tobacco Products Directive just a
few weeks ago that involved a shady Maltese lobbyist, Sweden's
substitute for snuff, and robberies against anti-smoking groups.
Borg's predecessor John Dalli was forced to resign after the EU fraud
office OLAF said a Maltese entrepreneur used his contacts with the
commissioner to seek a bribe from a Swedish firm in return for changes
to the tobacco legislation, "in particular on the EU export ban on
Snus, or Swedish snuff, is a moist powder tobacco
originating from dry snuff. Though its sale is illegal across the EU, it
is manufactured and chewed in Sweden, which has an exemption.
Mr Borg's new proposals maintain the ban on snus as well as Sweden's exemption.
also ban "slims" and state that electronic cigarettes, which contain
some nicotine, will only be authorised as medicinal products.
Pipes and cigars however were largely left out of the loop.
"They are on the decline and don't attract youths," Mr Borg said.
* This number reflects the total amount of people who have signed up to support the plain packaging of tobacco products, via the Plain Packs Protect Partnership (logos below), British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK websites.