The European Commissioner for Health, John Dalli, told a conference last week that it was necessary to ensure that tobacco products, and cigarettes in particular, were produced and presented across the EU in such a way that they did not encourage or facilitate the uptake of smoking by young people.
Dalli was speaking at a conference on pictorial health warnings and standardized packaging for tobacco products held in Brussels on Wednesday under the aegis of the Smoke Free Partnership and the Belgian Foundation against Cancer.
He said the key issue was the need to reduce “the attractiveness of cigarettes”.
“Cigarette packages are increasingly used as marketing tools. Slim, colourful, attractive packages are available on the market,” he said.
“Such appealing packaging can mislead people into believing that these products are harmless products like any other, when clearly they are not.”
Dalli then turned briefly to the additives used in some cigarettes.
There were now vanilla flavored and strawberry flavored cigarettes that could make it easier to smoke earlier in life, he said.
“There are also pink coloured and slim shaped cigarettes that could make smoking appear much more alluring and seductive, in particular to young girls,” he added.
“But tobacco is tobacco – even if it is presented in an appealing way.
“So we need to take further action to make tobacco less appealing – in particular to young people – and to ensure that people know exactly what they can expect from tobacco in terms of bad health.
“It is in this spirit that I am considering different possibilities to improve the rules on health warnings and packaging so that people get accurate, effective information about tobacco products.
“Tobacco packages should look dissuasive, not appealing. When people look at a package of cigarettes, they need to get the message that this product can harm their health.”
Dalli said also that he was considering how to regulate additives in tobacco products, more stringent regulation on “access to tobacco”, and how to address new types of nicotine products on the market, such as electronic cigarettes.