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European Parliament vote passes weakened version of anti-tobacco legislation

European Parliament vote passes weakened version of anti-tobacco legislation
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Graphic health warnings covering 65 percent of cigarette packets sold in the EU, instead of the 75 percent initially proposed by the European Commission.

This is part of the watered-down anti-smoking legislation voted in by the European Parliament on Tuesday, but some see the measures passed as progress.

“We voted for big warnings, front and back, 65 percent. We voted to get rid of flavourings. For the menthol cigarettes – phasing out, at least, so they go eventually,” said British Labour MEP Linda McAvan.

The vote on the world’s toughest anti-tobacco laws sees MEPs scaling back almost all the Commission’s plans.

Many of those proposals were also supported by EU member states, but the parliament rejected them as too harsh.

A ban on menthol cigarettes will only be implemented in eight years’ time and there will be no ban on slim cigarettes.

Smokers can continue to freely buy e-cigarettes after a move to have them sold only on medicinal grounds was rejected.

The next step is negotiations between the European Parliament, Commission and EU member states. The aim is to have the legislation, known as the Tobacco Products Directive, passed before May 2014.

“This is the art of compromise, and it’s also the art of politics. I believe after today’s vote, it is possible,” said EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg.

The European Commission wants to reduce the estimated 700,000 deaths of EU citizens a year related to tobacco and discourage young people from becoming smokers.

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