The EU’s Permanent Representatives Committee yesterday approved a revised EU tobacco products directive that, in part, and in the words of a Council press note, aims to ensure that ‘tobacco products taste and smell like tobacco products’.
The new directive has still to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, which will vote on it only after the legal-linguistic revision of the text has been finalised. And once the directive is adopted member states will have two years to transpose the new rules into national law.
According to the press note, and in the words of the press note, the compromise text of the directive approved yesterday includes the following ‘key measures’:
‘A ban on the placing on the market of cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco with characterising flavours such as fruit flavours, menthol or vanilla. This is to make sure that tobacco products taste and smell like tobacco products. The ban on mentholated products will apply only four years after the directive being transposed by the member states. Member states will also have to ban the placing on the market of tobacco products containing additives in quantities that increase in a significant or measurable manner the toxic or addictive effect, or the carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic properties.
‘Combined picture and text health warnings will have to cover 65 per cent of the front and the back of packages of tobacco products for smoking. In addition, each packet of smoking tobacco must carry a general warning (such as “Smoking kills – quit now”) and the information message: “Tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer”.
‘A ban on any misleading labelling (such as “natural” or “organic”).
‘Introduction of a tracking and tracing system, together with safety features in order to strengthen the fight against illicit trade and falsified products.
‘Member states may decide to ban cross-border distance sales of tobacco products.
‘Member states may introduce more stringent rules on additives or on packaging of tobacco products (such as plain-packaging), subject to certain conditions (such as notification of the Commission).
‘The scope of the directive is extended to electronic cigarettes which will be subject of a number of safeguards (e.g. maximum concentration of nicotine of 20 mg/ml, maximum single use cartridge size of 2 ml). As regards refillable electronic cigarettes, the Commission will have to report on their potential risk to public health at the latest two years after the entry into force of the directive. If for justified reasons related to a serious risk to human health at least three member states have banned refillable electronic cigarettes the Commission is allowed to extend the ban to all member states. Member states may authorise electronic cigarettes under the rules for pharmaceuticals if they meet the provisions of the pharmaceutical legislation. The agreement is aimed at helping smokers to quit while preventing any incentive for young people to start smoking.’