Euobserver / eu to ban menthol cigarettes, impose scary pictures

Dalli’s successor, Tonio Borg, noted that smoking kills 700,000 people a year in Europe. «This means that a city the size of Palermo is wiped off the map every single year,» he said.

He added the law is aimed at preventing young people from getting into the habit.

A former smoker himself, he said «It’s not because we treat people as if they were stupid, but we want to help EU citizens come to the right decision … Smokers should not be treated like the lepers of modern times, but at the same time we should protect citizens who do not want to smoke.»

He also said he did not water down Dalli’s earlier draft of the bill in any way, a claim backed up by Dalli.

«I have seen a version of what has been proposed. I cannot see any relevant changes from my earlier proposal,» Dalli told EUobserver by email.

Wednesday’s bill sets the scene for fresh lobbying and politicking in the European Parliament and in EU countries’ embassies in Brussels, which can still amend the law.

The centre right EPP group in parliament immediately welcomed Borg’s «balanced» text. But the centre left S&D faction said it should force cigarettes to be sold in plain packs with the brand indicated only by a line of text, as in Australia.

For its part, cigarette maker Philip Morris, which made a profit of almost &#x20AC 7 billion last year, said the directive’s «numerous flaws need to be addressed.»

British American Tobacco (also &#x20AC 7 billion) said the bill is «not proportionate» and promised «to make our voice heard over the course of the next year» in the EU institutions.

In a sign of the tobacco lobby’s power, Borg noted that he met on two occasions with Swedish ministers who urged him to lift the snus ban.

Tobacco lobbyists also get frequent meetings with top advisors to Borg’s boss, commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso.

But for Epha, a Brussels based anti smoking NGO, Borg’s bill indicates that big tobacco’s message is falling on deaf ears.

«I hope this is a watershed moment for the relationship between the commission and the tobacco industry,» its director, Monika Kosinska, said. «The directive proves that the commission did not listen to the lobbyists,» Epha’s Javier Delgado Rivera added.

Zooming in on snus, users insert pellets of the stuff against their gums, where tiny crystals on the surface of the product lacerate the skin to get nicotine into their bloodstream.

It is loved by Swedish right wingers who see it as part of Swedish national identity.

It is also popular with children because they can use it, for instance, during class in school without the teacher being able to see.

«There is evidence to show that if you were to introduce snus into the European market, it would be a great success,» Borg said.

Menthol cigarettes could be banned across the eu (but not until 2017)

MENTHOL CIGARETTES may be banned throughout the European Union from later this decade, under an accord reached by the EU’s health ministers in Luxembourg today.

The ministers, chaired by Ireland’s James Reilly, agreed that a forthcoming directive on tobacco sales throughout the EU would forbid the sale of menthol cigarettes in each state.

European health commissioner Tonio Borg described the deal forged by Ireland, where member states adopted a common approach to the tobacco directive, as the «jewel in the crown» of its European Council presidency.

He described the debate on the measures as «challenging» a reference to the efforts of some states, particularly Poland, to safeguard their domestic tobacco industries.

Borg said he expected the new directive to come into effect in «three years, three and a half years’ time» as the European Parliament would need to approve the measures first, before the directive would be imposed.

After that, he said, member states would be given the usual 18 month period to bring the changes into law in their own countries.

The directive will not include a ban on slim cigarettes, however with Borg explaining that some ministers felt diverting customers onto slim cigarettes meant they were consuming less tobacco and nicotine than they otherwise might.

«There was a considerable number of member states who were not against the prohibition on advertising of slims, nor were they against the ban on having slim packages, but they were against the banning of slim cigarettes themselves. After all, you are smoking less,» he said.

«This was the compromise reached by member states to start discussions with the European Parliament.»

No ban on e cigarettes either for now

The ban will also not affect e cigarettes, which Reilly has expressed fears about.

The minister said that e cigarettes were «less toxic» than traditional ones, but added «less toxic doesn’t mean more safe to me but I think the jury’s out on that».

Borg added that there were two different points of view on the consumption of e cigarettes, as they did not result in passive smoking by others, but that they gave a «false sense of security» to some smokers who perceived them as healthier than traditional tobacco.

He said more research would be undertaken to investigate the negative health effects of e cigarettes, and suggested that there was little appetite to try and regulate such products without concrete evidence of their use.

Poll Should Europe ban menthol and slim cigarettes?