Magazine article European Social Policy

Health Council : Tobacco: Ministers Lift Ban on Slim Cigarettes

Magazine article European Social Policy

Health Council : Tobacco: Ministers Lift Ban on Slim Cigarettes

Article excerpt

The member states' health ministers agreed, on 21 June, on a compromise that waters down the European Commission's proposals in terms of the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and tobacco products. They decided to reduce to 65% the size of warnings in the form of images and text for cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco and water pipe tobacco instead of the 75% proposed by the Commission. They also rejected the ban on slim cigarettes and decided to authorise characterising flavours for chewing tobacco products, contrary to the Commission's recommendation. Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria voted against the text as they took the view that it did not go far enough.

Currently, tobacco products are subject to Directive 2001/37/EC, with regulates, inter alia, the maximum amounts of nicotine and tar and which obliges producers to print written health advertisements on packaging. On 19 December 2012, the Commission proposed a series of measures that were meant to reduce the number of smokers in the EU by 2% within a period of five years in order to record a net profit of 4 billion per year. It suggested banning long cigarettes and aromatised products as well as introducing health warnings on 75% of the backs and fronts of packets.

The compromise that the health ministers reached amends the proposal on three main points. First of all, it restricts the warnings to 65% of the surface of the packet, including the black border. This provision meets the concerns of Austria, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria and Portugal and goes against what was advocated by Germany, Belgium, Malta and Luxembourg. It then keeps the ban on characterising flavours, such as chocolate or menthol, while introducing an exemption for snus (smokeless tobacco) at Sweden's request and for chewing tobacco at Denmark's request. …

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