Eu diplomats approve new anti-tobacco legislation

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European Union diplomats approved new anti tobacco legislation on Wednesday placing new restrictions on how products are made and sold.

Graphic picture and text warnings will have to cover 65 percent of the front and back of packets of cigarettes and other tobacco products for smoking. Current EU law demands that written health warnings cover 30 percent of a pack’s front and 40 percent of the back, but pictures are not obligatory.

Text warnings will include phrases such as «Smoking kills quit now» and «Tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer».

Individual governments will be free to go beyond the minimum requirements and impose a ban on all branding, provided such «plain packaging» rules are justified on public health grounds and notified to the European Commission.

Cigarettes and rolling tobacco containing characterising flavours such as fruit or vanilla will be banned from 2016.

A ban on menthol flavourings will apply from 2020.

E cigarettes will be classed as consumer products without the need for prior approval provided they meet a maximum nicotine concentration of 20 milligrams per millilitre (mg/ml). Products containing higher concentrations will be regulated as medicines.

Refill cartridges for reusable e cigarettes must contain no more than 10 ml of nicotine laced liquid, up to the maximum 20 mg/ml concentration. Non refillable products can contain no more than 2 millilitres of liquid.

The Commission will publish a study on the potential health risks of refillable e cigarettes by 2016. If three or more EU countries ban refillable e cigarettes on health grounds, the Commission will be free to impose an EU wide ban.

A ban on misleading terms on cigarettes and other smoking products, such as «organic» or «natural» will also apply.

Governments can decide individually to ban the online sale of tobacco products across borders.

The new rules are expected to be formally approved by EU ministers and parliament before coming into force next year.

The deal was struck after governments and the European Parliament resolved a dispute over how tightly to regulate the booming e cigarette market.

24 SOT
Parliament said the e cigarettes should be regulated as tobacco products, and that is the final outcome we’ve got today. So, the discussion was never about banning e cigarettes, as has been reported all to often in the media. Nobody was ever going to ban e cigarettes. That was not the discussion. The discussion was simply how to regulate e cigarettes and the result is that e cigarettes will be regulated as a tobacco product.

Most e cigarettes will be sold as consumer products rather than as more tightly regulated medical devices.

While popular refillable e cigarettes will be allowed, the Commission could impose an EU wide ban if three or more member states withdraw them on health grounds.

Cigarettes and tobacco with flavours like fruit or vanilla will be banned from 2016. Menthol cigarettes will be outlawed four years later.

The deal is expected to be approved by EU ministers and parliament before coming into force next year.

Copyright 2014 euronews

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European union seeks ban on ‘too realistic’ e-cigarettes

All electronic cigarettes currently on sale in Britain would be banned and removed from shelves under new European Union proposals. A confidential negotiating document drafted by the European Commission seeks to overturn a vote by MEPs that rejected outlawing them in their present form.

Brussels officials fear that there is a «risk that electronic cigarettes can develop into a gateway to normal cigarettes», according to the paper. It wants to include the smoke free alternative under a new EU «tobacco products directive» despite the fact they contain no tobacco.

The attempt to ban e cigarettes drew anger from suppliers in Britain, where 1.3 million have switched to the devices. Fraser Cropper, the chief executive officer of Totally Wicked, an e cigarette supplier based in Lancashire, said «Behind closed doors in Brussels, unaccountable and unelected bureaucrats are drafting proposals that will deny millions of existing and former smokers access to a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes.»

A town in northern France has become the first to impose a ban on electronic cigarettes in public buildings. Francois Digard, the mayor of Saint Lo in the La Manche region of Normandy, passed a decree this month outlawing them. France, which has an estimated 1.5 million e cigarette users, is mulling a ban but the mayor apparently decided to jump the gun after several non smokers said they were unhappy about the devices being smoked in public libraries.

«The e cigarette is not neutral in the immediate environment. With it emitting odour and a bit of smoke it can really bother some people,» Mr Digard told France Bleu Cotentin radio.

As cigarette smoking has been increasingly stigmatised, the sale of electronic cigarettes has risen dramatically. E cigarettes consist of a battery, a cartridge containing nicotine, a solution of propylene glycol or glycerine mixed with water, and an atomiser to turn the solution into a vapour.

The nicotine is delivered without a flame and without tobacco or tar and e cigarette users describe the experience as «vaping» rather than smoking.

They are widely considered a healthier alternative, however, the Dutch public health institute on Wednesday published a policy paper claiming that electronic cigarettes are as harmful as ordinary cigarettes, saying that they are addictive and contain poisonous substances.

Because the products are new and do not contain tobacco, they are outside EU law and are more or less unregulated in Britain and across Europe.

The officials in Brussels want that to change, saying the devices «normalise the action of smoking». «Electronic cigarettes are a tobacco related product and should be regulated within this directive. They simulate smoking behaviour and are increasingly used and marketed to young people and non smokers,» said the commission negotiating paper.

The proposals would ban, by 2017, e cigarettes that produce levels of nicotine above 20mg per ml, those with refillable cartridges or those that taste like tobacco. Suppliers say all e cigarettes currently available would fall foul of the rules.

Martin Callanan, a Conservative MEP, said «Forcing e cigarettes off the shelves would be crazy. It would remove a valuable support for people desperate to stop smoking and thus could potentially lead to needless deaths.» A commission spokesman said «I never comment on leaked documents.»