Parliament adopts new eu tobacco rules

Members of the European Parliament voted today (26 February) to approve a deal reached with member states in December on new EU tobacco legislation will, controversially, tightly regulate the content and marketing of electronic cigarettes.

Today’s vote, which is expected to be rubber stamped by member states in the coming weeks, ends a long effort to revise EU tobacco rules which saw the resignation of former health commissioner John Dalli, unprecedented lobbying by tobacco companies and citizens demonstrations by so called ‘vapers’ users of electronic cigarettes.

The new legislation will require large pictorial warnings with unpleasant images covering 65% of cigarette packs. Characterising flavours including menthol will be banned.

In recent months the most controversial aspect of the revision was its effort to standardise EU regulation of new electronic cigarettes. In October members of the parliament adopted a negotiating position that called for e cigarettes to be regulated for general sale.

National governments, concerned about the unknown long term health effects, wanted them to be regulated as medicines. Member states also wanted to ban refillable cartridges over concerns about safety and nicotine content. These elements were included in the proposal put forward by the European Commission in 2012.

But MEPs, under intense pressure from e cigarette manufacturers and users who said such restrictions would kill off a valuable tool to quit smoking, refused to allow such a ban.

The compromise agreed with national governments in December, backed by MEPs today, will see e cigarettes regulated for general sale at EU level, but member states would be allowed to regulate them as medicines if they so choose. Refillable cartridges will not be banned. However member states can ban specific types of cartridges, if the ban can be justified by safety concerns.

If three member states adopt a ban on a specific cartridge, the European Commission can unilaterally impose an EU level ban, without approval by Parliament or member states. Cartridge size will be capped at 2ml.
E cigarettes will be limited to a maximum permitted nicotine concentration level of 20mg/ml, equivalent to roughly one pack of regular cigarettes.

Though the e cigarette issue became the most contested part of the legislation in its final months, the revision of the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive will mean big changes for traditional cigarettes as well.

All characterising flavours will be banned, though the menthol flavour will be given a four year derogation to 2020. Manufacturers and importers must submit reports on the use of these additives within 18 months.

Pictorial health warnings must cover 65% of both the front and back of cigarette packs. In order to address the concerns raised by manufacturers about increased ease of counterfeiting using the labels, the law will set up an EU wide tracking and tracing system to combat illicit trade of tobacco products.

Member states may ban cross border distance sales of tobacco products, for example through online purchasing. The Commission proposal to ban slim cigarettes was rejected. But perfumed ‘lipstick’ cigarettes will be banned.

Health campaign groups said they were broadly pleased with today’s result. «Today marks a genuine turning point for European tobacco control and a huge stride towards a tobacco free Europe,» said Archie Turnbull, president of the Smoke Free Partnership.» This vote will help protect young people and children across Europe, saving many lives and helping prevent young Europeans from starting to smoke.»

The Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers said the measures adopted today are «disproportionate» and are «more likely to lead to a rise in profits for criminal gangs, who sell much cheaper, unregulated products.»

«We expect diligence to be taken in allowing realistic transition
periods for member states and the industry,» said Michiel Reerink, the group’s chairman. «Due to the complexity of the numerous measures, tobacco companies, packaging manufacturers, machinery suppliers, wholesalers and retailers must imperatively be given sufficient time to comply with the Directive.

Travellers entering the eu — european commission

In this context, imports are regarded as having no commercial character if they take place occasionally and consist of goods for the personal or family use of the travellers, or of goods intended as presents.

The limits laid down in the table above also apply if you come from

  • Canary Islands,
  • Channel Islands,
  • French Overseas Departments
  • Aland Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Helgoland
  • Busingen
  • Ceuta and Melilla
  • Livigno
  • other territories where VAT and EU excise provisions do not apply.

EU legislation concerning allowances for travellers can be found in Council Directive 2007/74/EC of December 2007 (as far as VAT and excise duties are concerned) and in article 41 of Regulation 1186/2009 as far as customs duties are concerned.

In spite of these rules the importation of goods may be restricted or prohibited in accordance with specific Community and or national legislation.

Do you intend to purchase excise products (e.g. wine, spirits and tobacco products such as cigarettes, etc) over the internet? See the list of frequently asked questions.

New rules for import in travellers’ personal luggage

New rules on duty and tax free imports entered into force on 1 December 2008. See Council Directive 2007/74/EC of 20 December 2007 and Council Regulation 274/2008 of 17 March 2008 , which since 1 January 2010 has been replaced by Council Regulation 1186/2009 of 16 November 2009 . See also the press release (IP/08/1845 ).

Travellers entering the EU from other countries now benefit from increased savings when importing goods into the European Union in their personal luggage. Member States have also reduced administrative burdens by renouncing the collection of relatively small amounts of duty. Travellers’ allowances are the monetary thresholds or the quantitative limits under which travellers entering the EU from third countries are allowed to import duty and tax free in their personal luggage.

The rules in force since 1 December 2008 have

  • increased the current monetary threshold from 175 to 430 for air and sea travellers and to 300 for land and inland waterways travellers the lower threshold for the latter takes account of the special situation of Member States that have land borders with countries where prices are significantly lower than in the EU
  • abolished the quantitative limits on perfume, eau de toilette, coffee and tea (which means that such items now come under the monetary threshold)
  • increased the quantitative limit for still wine from 2 to 4 litres
  • introduced a quantitative limit of 16 litres on beer imports (only for VAT and excise duties given that beer is customs free)
  • given Member States the option of reducing the quantitative limits on tobacco products (e.g. for cigarettes from 200 to 40) in support of health policies.

As an example, an air traveller arriving in the EU from a non EU country could import 200 cigarettes duty and tax free, 1 litre of spirits, 4 litres of wine, 16 litres of beer and 430 of other goods (toys, perfume, electronic devices, etc). Taxes and customs duties will be applied on the value of goods exceeding those limits. However, the value of an individual item may not be split up.

Restrictions of particular interest to international passengers 1. Products of animal origin

Apart from some exceptions the Community rules do not allow the importation of meat, meat products, milk and milk products by travellers. Clearer EU rules are in force as from 1 May 2009.

Two posters advertising the rules on personal imports of meat and milk into the EU are available in 35 languages.

  • Poster No 1
  • Poster No 2

2. Animal or plants or part of these, covered by the convention of Washington

Travellers must be aware that certain wildlife animals or plants and parts thereof are protected by the Convention of Washington (CITES). The importation of these specimens is strongly restricted following the Community rules implementing the CITES Convention.

3. Pets

Pet owners have to respect the Community rules on movements of pet animals.

4. Prohibitions and restrictions in the following areas are covered by national legislation

  • Drugs
  • Medicines
  • Weapons
  • Explosive Material
  • Pornographic Materials

If you need more information, please contact the competent authorities of your country of destination.

5. Travelling with 10 000 or more in cash

As from 15 June 2007, travellers entering or leaving the EU and carrying 10 000 or more in cash (or its equivalent in other currencies or easily convertible assets such as cheques drawn on a third party) have to make a declaration to the customs authorities.

This follows the entry into force of a new European Regulation aimed at fighting money laundering, and the financing of terrorism. Customs authorities are empowered under the Regulation to undertake controls on individuals, their baggage and their means of transport and detain cash that has not been declared.

Travellers must be aware that all Member States apply penalties in the event of failure to comply with the obligation to declare as laid down in the Regulation. Some Member States may apply additional measures according to their national legislation (e.g. intra community cash controls).

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Travelling by air baggage controls in the European Union

You may find background information on baggage controls of passengers entering or leaving the EU in this information document.