Europe proposes new tobacco rules — nytimes.com

The commission s proposal would also ban cigarettes containing large quantities of flavorings including menthol and vanilla, restrict the sale of slimmer cigarettes and maintain a ban in most of the European Union on a form of chewing tobacco called snus.

The proposals still are less strict than in Australia, where a prohibition on logos and colorful designs went into effect this month. But the proposed ban on slim and super slim cigarettes that are marketed to young women «is a positive development and a world first,» said the Smoke Free Partnership, a European organization that promotes tobacco control and research.

Tonio Borg, the E.U. commissioner for health and consumer policy, said the overall goal of the so called Tobacco Products Directive was to make smoking less attractive and to discourage young people from tobacco consumption.

«Consumers must not be cheated,» Mr. Borg said. «Tobacco products should look and taste like tobacco products, and this proposal ensures that attractive packaging and flavorings are not used as a marketing strategy.»

But Unitab, a European association of tobacco growers, said regulators had declared «total war» on their industry. The increased restrictions on branding would make price the deciding factor in tobacco sales that in turn would favor suppliers from countries with lower production costs and put thousands of jobs in Europe at risk, the association said.

Written health warnings already must cover about 40 percent of a cigarette pack in the Union, although some countries also use pictorial warnings. In the future, Mr. Borg would like pictorial warnings to be mandatory, and for the warnings to cover three quarters of the front and back of each pack of cigarettes, and half of each side.

E.U. officials conceded that the entire top and bottom sides of cigarette packs sold in Europe still could be used for branding under Mr. Borg s proposals. Member states could opt to require plain packaging, however.

The directive also would require that smokeless electronic cigarettes providing more than a certain amount of nicotine should be available only in outlets like pharmacies. National or Europe wide «test panels» would determine what quantities of flavoring like menthol should be banned, they said.

Much of the interest in the legislation in recent months had focused on apparent attempts to influence its wording.

Mr. Borg s predecessor, John Dalli, resigned in October after the commission concluded that he had probably known about an attempt by a lobbyist to solicit a multimillion dollar payoff in exchange for easing the ban on snus. The product can be sold only in Sweden, where some people consider it a safer alternative to smoking.

Mr. Dalli denied the allegations and said he was forced to resign under pressure from Jos Manuel Barroso, the president of the commission. Mr. Dalli also said his ouster had jeopardized chances for the revised directive to be passed before the current term of the European Parliament, which must approve the legislation, expires in 2014.

Mr. Borg suggested Wednesday that the law still could be adopted before the Parliament s term expires, and go into force in 2015 or 2016.

But the Smoke Free Partnership warned that lobbying still could water down the proposals on labeling and packaging, as well as the ban on flavors and slim cigarettes. Governments and members of the European Parliament «are likely to face attempts by the tobacco industry to further block, weaken and delay this important legislation,» said Florence Berteletti Kemp, the director of the partnership.

European parliament votes against proposal to regulate e-cigarettes as medicines — nicotine science and policy

Gerry Stimson 13 October 2013

As the Telegraph put it, The decision by MEPs to reject a European Commission proposal to treat electronic cigarettes as medicinal products was as sensible as it was unexpected .

After months of politicking among MEPs in Brussels, the proposal in the Tobacco Products Directive to treat nicotine containing products (electronic cigarettes) under medicine regulations was thrown out when the European Parliament adopted by 362 to 298 votes to treat them as consumer products. This followed a major campaign by electronic cigarette users.

Other key points agreed by Parliament were

  • to continue the ban on the sale of snus (except in Sweden)
  • the sale of cigarettes in packets of 10 to be banned by 2016
  • all tobacco packs to carry a health warning covering 65% of their surface (down from a proposed 75% and up from 30 40% now)
  • individual package markings on tobacco packs to aid traceability
  • rejection of a ban on slim cigarettes
  • rejection of an immediate ban on menthol, now to be postponed for 8 years

The adopted amendment on electronic cigarettes includes

  • medicines legislation applies where a health claim is made i.e. that the product can be used for treating or preventing disease
  • a maximum limit of nicotine at 30mg/ml.
  • a health warning that nicotine is addictive
  • flavourings are allowed
  • applying the directives on tobacco advertising the products will be subject to many of the same advertising bans as normal cigarettes
  • manufacturers and importers of nicotine containing products submit to national authorities a list of ingredients and emissions
  • a ban on sales to under 18s.

The vote on electronic cigarettes poses a problem for the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, which had linked its policy that all electronic cigarettes would need medicines license by 2016 to the TPD. Following the vote on October 8, MHRA and the Department of Health said that it still believed that the products need to be regulated as medicines and will continue arguing for this in further negotiations.

It s not over yet! This is only an early stage in the European legislative process. The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers (which favours medical licensing) now have different positions and compromise negotiations will now take place between Parliament, Council (the EU member states, led by the Presidency) and the European Commission a process known as the trialogue) see if they can find common ground. The Council will then need to propose amendments (probably in December) that it hopes the Parliament accepts. The Directive does not pass unless the Parliament and Council agree.

Many of those involved in the TPD are concerned that the process will run over into January when the Greece takes over the Presidency from Lithuania, and May next year when the current Parliament dissolves.

Watch this space for more information as the EU decision making process unfolds and the UK government’s position becomes clear.


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