Making a Difference in Cancer Prevention and Control
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Mixed feelings after the vote on Tobacco Products Directive
The European Parliament (EP) voted on 8 October 2013 to support mandatory pictorial warnings covering 65 percent of both sides of cigarette packs. The Parliament also agreed to ban menthol cigarettes from 2022, to ban cigarette packs of less than 20, to introduce strong tracking and tracing provisions for tobacco products, to prevent illicit trade, and to regulate nicotine containing e-cigarettes as tobacco products
While the Parliament rejected a ban on slim cigarettes, it maintained restrictions on other misleading features of tobacco products and the ability of member states to adopt more stringent measures to regulate tobacco products, such as plain packaging.
This result is not ideal for public health, and is a bittersweet moment for tobacco control. For instance, we did not get graphic warnings covering 75 percent of packs or a ban on slim cigarettes, but we managed to ensure that the Parliament adopts a negotiation mandate, allowing the start of negotiations with member states and the European Commission. We hope that three EU institutions (Commission, Parliament and Council) will reach a compromise on a common text in the coming months. If there is no agreement on a compromise before the European elections in May 2014, there is still no Tobacco Products Directive. Our expectation is, however, that a compromise will be found, but that the proposed measures will be less far reaching than the commission had proposed a year ago.
Luk Joossens, Advocacy Officer, ECL.