The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, has approved comprehensive tobacco regulations to curb smoking in Europe. The rules include a ban on menthol cigarettes and new restrictions on electronic cigarettes.
The law isn’t final it still has to be reviewed by other branches of the European Union’s government. But its passage means that a the hotly contested debate over tobacco products in Europe is finally nearing an end.
Defenders of the smokeless tobacco product, speaking to the New York Times , cheered Parliament’s decision to spare e cigarettes from a proposal to regulate them as medical devices, which would have restricted their sale to pharmacies in some countries.
But the measure imposed stricter limits on advertising in Europe, a subject that is sure to be controversial in the U.S. as well.
The European vote is a step in the right direction” Craig Weiss, the CEO of NJOY, a market leader in the American e cigarette market wrote in an email. “At the same time, we are concerned about the proposed advertising restrictions. It is critical that companies like NJOY be able to fully inform tobacco smokers that they have an alternative.
American tobacco companies have endured tough advertising restrictions since 1970, including a ban on television advertising that does not extend to e cigarettes. E cigarette makers, taking advantage of the current lack of regulation, have expanded their marketing efforts. In the first quarter of 2013, according to Kantar Media, spending on e cigarette advertising rose to $15.7 million in the U.S., up from $2 million in the same period last year.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will not regulate electronic cigarettes as medical devices either, but it has set a deadline to begin the process of regulating them as tobacco product by the end of October, a deadline that could be pushed back by the government shutdown. TIME explored the coming regulations in an investigation in September. Restrictions on print, radio, and television advertising are a possibility.
Eu propose ban on menthol and electronic cigarettes
E cigarettes have risen in popularity since smoking was banned in enclosed area GETTY
On Tuesday, MEPs from 28 nations will have the chance to vote on restrictions of various tobacco products in an attempt to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking.
With electronic cigarettes rising in popularity in the past few years, campaigners have argued that e cigarettes are becoming damaging to people’s health.
Tobacco companies and e cigarette manufacturers have however all requested the restrictions are watered down.
Anti smoking backers have claimed that e cigarettes have the potential to save millions of lives and have already had a positive impact on society.
MEPs are set to vote on the matter on Tuesday GETTY
Restrictions have been focused on preventing children and young people from picking up masked cigarettes who may be tricked in smoking.
E cigarettes are designed as an alternative to smoking cigarettes without the use of tobacco. They are battery operated and turn chemicals such as nicotine into water vapour.
The proposals have been focused around preventing children and young people from picking up masked cigarettes who may be tricked in smoking.
Menthol cigarettes could also become banned in the EU after officials worry the younger generation may turn to smoking because of the sweet flavouring.
Cigarette packets may soon have bigger warning signs GETTY
Words such as “light” and “mild” may also be removed from packets to prevent misleading customers.
Other proposals include increasing the size of health warnings on cigarette packs and banning slim cigarettes and packs of 10 cigarettes.
An EU report has suggested that around 700,000 people die of smoking related deaths annually across the 28 nations.
And treatment for smoke related diseases costs about 25 billion euro (f21 billion) a year.
Legislation was passed in 2007 that banned smokers from lighting up in all enclosed places across England.
- Ditching our bad habits has added years to our lives
- It’s good to be a quitter… so give up smoking
- I knew I had to stop when smoking began affecting my career, says Emmerdale actress
- MEPs to vote on tobacco restriction