EU clamps down on tobacco

NoSmokingSign2SMLMember states of the European Union are backing plans for bigger and bolder health warnings on cigarette packs and bans on most flavourings such as menthol.

Under the new proposals, prominent health warnings would have to cover 65 percent of tobacco packaging and include graphic warnings.

“We have an opportunity today to step up to the mark, or we can walk away and fail our children,” said Irish Health Minister James Reilly.

EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said the crackdown was aimed at reducing smoking-related deaths, which stand at around 700 000 a year in the 27-nation bloc.

The new regulations aim to stop youngsters from being swayed into smoking by enticing packaging and flavours that could get them hooked.

Whatever the overall EU regulations contain in the end, individual member states would be allowed to impose even tougher rules as they please.

The blueprint was decided despite the opposition of four nations that are more lenient toward smoking: Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania.

According to the European Commission, 28 percent of the EU’s 500 million citizens still smoke, and Borg said he hopes to get 2.4-million smokers to kick the habit in the next five years based on tougher regulations.

Tobacco companies increasingly rely on their packaging to build brand loyalty and grab consumers since it is one of the few advertising levers left to them.

“The main thrust is that tobacco should look like tobacco and not like perfume or a candy, and that tobacco should taste like tobacco,” said Borg.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

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