ASH welcomes EU plans for larger health warnings

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Proposals to strengthen tobacco control measures within the European Union have been formally adopted today by the EU Commission. A revised Tobacco Products Directive was submitted to the Commission by EU Health Commissioner, Tonio Borg which will now be debated by the European Parliament.

The draft Directive includes mandatory large pictorial health warnings covering 75% of the packs (both front and back) compared to the current minimum requirement of 30% on one surface and 40% on the other. It also proposes a ban on ultra-thin cigarettes that have been marketed at women, and restrictions on certain flavourings that make smoking more palatable.

Although the Directive does not explicitly call for plain packaging of tobacco it would enable Member States to adopt such a measure.

Commenting on the proposals, ASH Chief Executive, Deborah Arnott, said:

“There is a lot to welcome in the proposed updated Directive in particular the mandatory requirement for larger pictorial health warnings and mandatory picture warnings on the front of the pack. However, there is a great deal of detail in the Directive which we will need to examine more closely.

We are encouraged that, despite efforts by the tobacco industry to scupper the Directive, there should be sufficient time for it to be considered and passed by the current EU Parliament.”

Notes and Links

Link to Directive:

Around one third of Europeans still smoke. Every year, smoking kills almost 700,000 people in Europe, making tobacco consumption the largest avoidable health risk.
The current Tobacco Products Directive, adopted in 2001, covers a range of measure including:
• A ban on misleading descriptors (eg the words such as “light” and “mild” to describe brands;
• a minimum size for the area taken up the written health warnings;
• permits, but does not currently require Member states to include pictorial warnings on packs,
• requires the disclosure of ingredients
• sets maximum limits for tar, nicotine & carbon monoxide
The Directive also includes a requirement to periodically review the measures contained within the Directive in the light of technological developments.

Further information about EU tobacco control policy can be found at: