Campaigners say the vote marked a turning point for
public health, but that intensive industry lobbying had reduced the
impact of a law designed to tackle an estimated 700,000
tobacco-related deaths in Europe every year.
Following Wednesday's plenary vote at the European Parliament in
Strasbourg, France, ministers from EU member states are expected to
give the law final endorsement next month, although it will only
start taking effect from 2016.
Cigarettes and other products will have to carry graphic picture and
text warnings covering 65 percent of the front and back of packets.
Countries contemplating bans on all cigarette branding, such as
Britain and Ireland, will be able to introduce plain packaging if
The rules also include a ban on smoking tobacco products containing
flavors such as fruit or vanilla. Menthol cigarettes will be banned
from 2020, after some governments demanded a slower phase-out.
"By ensuring that tobacco products look and taste like tobacco
products, the new rules will help to reduce the number of people who
start smoking in the EU," European Health Commissioner Tonio Borg
said in a statement.
EU diplomats had endorsed the deal in December after striking an
agreement on how tightly to regulate the market for e-cigarettes,
which some analysts say could eclipse the $700 billion-a-year market
for ordinary cigarettes in 10 years.
MARKET OF THE FUTURE?
Big tobacco firms, including Philip Morris owner Altria, British
American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco have all moved into the sector
to offset declining cigarette sales, particularly in developed
E-cigarettes are meant to help smokers give up conventional
cigarettes, but the Commission says the long-term effects on health
are not yet clear, hence the need for regulation.
In addition to respecting packaging and advertising rules,
e-cigarette makers will have to notify member state governments
before putting new products on the market and report annually on
[to top of second column]
Campaigners said the new requirements would make it harder for
companies to use misleading marketing to attract customers, but some
voiced concern about the impact of the industry lobby.
The original proposal from the European Commission, the EU
executive, was weakened over the course of negotiations, making the
size of the health warnings smaller than planned and a phase-in
period was introduced.
"Overall, the final outcome is an improvement compared to the
existing rules, but considering the deadly impacts of smoking, much
more could and should have been achieved," Olivier Hoedeman,
research and campaigns coordinator at Corporate Europe Observatory,
a Brussels corruption watchdog said.
The Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers in a
statement said it had openly contributed to the debate over the last
It said many of the measures were disproportionate and unlikely to
achieve their ends. "They will more likely lead to a rise in profits
for criminal gangs, who sell much cheaper, unregulated products,"
the confederation's Chairman Michiel Reerink said.
(Editing by Stephen Powell)
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