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?

Eu week ahead: cigarettes and spies in strasbourg — real time brussels — wsj

  • By
  • Tom Fairless

Brussels is set for a lull this week as the hub of European Union action shifts overseas. EU lawmakers are making the monthly commute to their other seat in Strasbourg, where they are due to vote on new tobacco legislation and discuss a response to alleged spying by the U.S. government. Meanwhile, several top EU officials have commitments overseas, from Rome to Washington D.C.

On Monday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will meet the prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo in her latest effort to bring the two closer together, while European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso will host Iraq s deputy prime minister.

European Council president Herman Van Rompuy will travel to London on Tuesday to meet U.K. premier David Cameron fresh from last week’s Conservative Party conference, where he reiterated his pledge to take powers back from Europe. In Strasbourg, European lawmakers will vote on a law aimed at making tobacco less attractive to young people, for example by banning sweet or fruity flavors. Several lawmakers and national health ministers have complained about unusually aggressive lobbying, and there are fears that divisions within the Parliament could prevent a deal on the new legislation before European elections in May.

On Wednesday, Jos Manuel Barroso will visit the Italian island of Lampedusa to pay his respects to the victims of last week’s shipwreck disaster, and discuss possible European actions to address the plight of refugees. Mr. Van Rompuy will travel to Paris for a working lunch with French president Fran ois Hollande. And European lawmakers will discuss a response to the National Security Agency’s alleged tapping of the SWIFT company’s international bank transfer data. They will also vote on new rules on flight and rest times for pilots and cabin crew.

The EU s digital tsar, Neelie Kroes, will travel to Portugal and Spain mid week, meeting Portugal s vice prime minister on Wednesday and Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, the EU’s top economic policymaker Olli Rehn will visit Washington for the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

And on Friday, Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, has an audience with Pope Francis in Rome.