Public Health Victory as European Parliament Backs Tobacco Products Directive
Campaigning public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) welcomed the large majority vote today by the European Parliament passing the revised and strengthened EU Tobacco Products Directive. The Directive means that all European Union countries will have to put in place a series of tough legal measures to curb smoking and tobacco use.
Key elements of the new Directive include:
• Mandatory pictorial health warnings covering 65% of both sides at the top of every cigarette pack.
• Countries can go further by introducing standardised packaging (and the UK Government has taken powers to do this under the Children and Families Bill);
• A ban on “characterising flavours” in cigarettes, such as fruit or chocolate, from 2016, with menthol banned from 2022;
• A regulatory framework for electronic cigarettes; and
• Strong “tracking and tracing” provisions for tobacco products to help fight illicit trade.
Following formal adoption by the European Council, Governments in the EU Member States will have two years to include the Directive’s provisions in national law, with an extension to six years for prohibiting menthol flavouring.
The 2010 Eurobarometer survey showed that 29% of EU citizens smoke either cigarettes, cigars or a pipe. According to the World Health Organisation, 16% of adult deaths in Europe are due to tobacco use.  
Deborah Arnott, CEO of ASH, commented:
“The European Parliament’s vote today is a victory for public health across the continent. The Directive, which will come into effect by 2016, will encourage many existing smokers to quit, and stop many children and young people from starting to smoke in the first place. It also provides for countries that are leaders in tobacco control, particularly the UK, to go further, by introducing standardised “plain” packaging for cigarettes.”