During a Plenary Session in Strasbourg today 26 February 2014, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to adopt the new Tobacco Products Directive as agreed with the EU Member States in December 2013.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted by 514 in favour to 66 against, with 58 abstentions, to approve the legal text. They also backed the controversial new provision on the regulation of e-cigarettes (depending on existing national legislation, they can be under medicinal products or under tobacco products legislations). EU member states will retain the possibility to adopt more stringent measures to regulate tobacco products, such as standardized packaging.
As the agreement reached in December was today endorsed in its entirety by the Parliament, the new legislation now awaits formal adoption by the Member States in the Council, which is expected to take place in March or April. The Directive’s rules for tobacco products and e-cigarettes will then enter into force in stages from 2016 onwards.
The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) of which ECC is a member wrote:
“Today’s endorsement of the new TPD strengthens the current European regulation on tobacco in several ways. Among other measures, it increases the size of the pictorial and text health warnings to cover 65% of tobacco packages and bans flavoured cigarettes and features on packaging that play down the health risks of smoking. There is evidence to show that these measures encourage smokers to give up and discourage non-smokers from starting (2).
Tobacco packaging is carefully designed by the tobacco industry to lure a particular range of consumers – for example, slim cigarettes target women (3) and coloured packaging are appealing to children. The new TPD will make tobacco packages less attractive to these demographic groups.
Europe’s youth has the highest smoking rates in the world (4), with higher rates among lower socio-economic groups. Today’s move by the EP empowers young people living in Europe with higher levels of health protection in a piece of legislation better fit for the twenty-first century. This directive will also ensure the product safety and quality of Nicotine Containing Products (NCPs) – including electronic cigarettes (5). It attempts to ensure that they remain accessible to smokers while ensuring that they are unappealing and inaccessible to minors.
Close to 13 million people suffer from smoking-related diseases in the EU. This has devastating effects not only on societies and healthcare systems, but also economically. The estimated annual cost of tobacco to the European economy is more than half a trillion euros, or about 4.6% of the European Union’s GDP (6).
EU Member States will also retain the possibility to adopt more stringent measures to regulate tobacco products, such as standardised packaging. Today’s TPD adoption at the European Parliament should encourage more EU Member States to step up public health measures to make smoking, the cause of hundreds of thousands of deaths a year in Europe, less attractive to people.”
The European Commission presents the main provisions of the Directive in this Questions & Answers sheet.
• Q2 2014: Adoption by the Member States in the Council
• Q2 2014: Publication of the Directive in the Official Journal
• Q2 2016: Entry into force of the Directive
(1) Tobacco products proposal: Setting the record straight on 10 common myths, European Commission memo, 30 May
(2) See the example of Uruguay: Tobacco control campaign in Uruguay: a population-based trend analysis.
(3) Women and smoking in the EU. Gender and Chronic Disease Policy Briefings (World No Tobacco Day 2013) – European Institute of Women’s Health’s (EIWH)
(6) A study on liability and the health costs of smoking, DG SANCO (2008/C6/046).