Flavored cigarettes are poised to disappear from the European market after the European Parliament passed legislation Tuesday banning some products and regulating others.
"The key aim of the new law is to stop tobacco companies recruiting a new generation of smokers by launching gimmicky products aimed at young people,” notes Linda McAvan, the British member who will lead negotiations with the European Council. Currently, 25 percent of Europeans smoke.
Under the new legislation, fruit and menthol flavors and small packs of 20 or fewer cigarettes will be banned, and all packs of cigarettes and ‘roll your own’ tobacco must carry a health warning covering 65% of their surface. “In Canada, large pictorial warnings were introduced in 2001, and youth smoking halved," McAvan reports.
Electronic cigarettes will be regulated as medicinal products unless they claim they can cure or prevent diseases. The e-cigarettes making no health claims should contain no more than 30mg/ml of nicotine and also should carry health warnings, according to the regulation. The challenge with e-cigarettes, McAvan says, is ensuring they are of good quality and are not marketed as gateway products to young people. Distribution outlets will not change, she adds. That “is a national law issue. The EU law is simply about how to regulate e-cigarettes.”
Once the legislation is approved by the Council and Parliament, EU member states will have 18 months in which to translate the directive into their national laws. The deadline for phasing out flavors in general is three years, with five additional years for menthol. Tobacco products that do not comply with the directive will be tolerated on the market for 24 months, and e-cigarettes for 36 months.