European Union diplomats approved new anti-tobacco legislation on Wednesday placing new restrictions on how products are made and sold.
Graphic picture and text warnings will have to cover 65 percent of the front and back of packets of cigarettes and other tobacco products for smoking. Current EU law demands that written health warnings cover 30 percent of a pack’s front and 40 percent of the back, but pictures are not obligatory.
Text warnings will include phrases such as “Smoking kills – quit now” and “Tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer”.
Individual governments will be free to go beyond the minimum requirements and impose a ban on all branding, provided such “plain packaging” rules are justified on public health grounds and notified to the European Commission.
Cigarettes and rolling tobacco containing characterising flavours such as fruit or vanilla will be banned from 2016.
A ban on menthol flavourings will apply from 2020.
E-cigarettes will be classed as consumer products without the need for prior approval provided they meet a maximum nicotine concentration of 20 milligrams per millilitre (mg/ml). Products containing higher concentrations will be regulated as medicines.
Refill cartridges for reusable e-cigarettes must contain no more than 10 ml of nicotine-laced liquid, up to the maximum 20 mg/ml concentration. Non-refillable products can contain no more than 2 millilitres of liquid.
The Commission will publish a study on the potential health risks of refillable e-cigarettes by 2016. If three or more EU countries ban refillable e-cigarettes on health grounds, the Commission will be free to impose an EU-wide ban.
A ban on misleading terms on cigarettes and other smoking products, such as “organic” or “natural” will also apply.
Governments can decide individually to ban the online sale of tobacco products across borders.
The new rules are expected to be formally approved by EU ministers and parliament before coming into force next year.
The deal was struck after governments and the European Parliament resolved a dispute over how tightly to regulate the booming e-cigarette market.
Parliament said the e-cigarettes should be regulated as tobacco products, and that is the final outcome we’ve got today. So, the discussion was never about banning e-cigarettes, as has been reported all-to-often in the media. Nobody was ever going to ban e-cigarettes. That was not the discussion. The discussion was simply how to regulate e-cigarettes and the result is that e-cigarettes will be regulated as a tobacco product.
Most e-cigarettes will be sold as consumer products rather than as more-tightly regulated medical devices.
While popular refillable e-cigarettes will be allowed, the Commission could impose an EU-wide ban if three or more member states withdraw them on health grounds.
Cigarettes and tobacco with flavours like fruit or vanilla will be banned from 2016. Menthol cigarettes will be outlawed four years later.
The deal is expected to be approved by EU ministers and parliament before coming into force next year.