After years of discussions, lobbying and negotiations, the European Parliament adopted on 26 February, at a plenary session, the new Tobacco Directive. According to the directive´s rapporteur Linda McAvan, the new directive is a culmination of a long-term effort of the EU to control effectively tobacco products and to prevent young people from starting smoking. Such prevention measures include picture warnings on 65% of cigarette packs´ surfaces, front and back side. Also, additives giving characterising flavor to cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco are to banned completely, as they tend to make smoking more attractive. Menthol flavor will not be banned until 2020, however. Regulators are also given new powers vis-a-vis tobacco producers.
The most controversial part of the directive is, however, the e-cigarette regulation. As a compromise with the Member States, who will have to adopt the directive as well before it can come into effect, the e-cigarettes will be regarded as medicine if they are presented as an aid to quit smoking, otherwise they will be treated as tobacco products. As such, their nicotine concentration cannot exceed 20 mg/ml. Refillable cartridges will be allowed, if they do not exceed 2 ml, but individual Member States will be allowed to ban individual cartridges. Strict marketing restrictions and obligatory health warnings will apply to e-cigarettes, as well.
According to the European Parliament, the EU succeeded in reducing smoking since 2002 from 40% of population to 28%. The new directive should help further reduce this number.
The Council will formally vote on it in the following weeks and then Member States will have 2 years to transpose it into their respective national legislations.
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