Yesterday, 8 October 2013, the European Parliament, voting in plenary session adopted its position on the controversial Tobacco Products Directive. However, Parliament deferred a formal first reading vote to allow Rapporteur Linda McAvan to pursue .
The main elements of the Directive are:
- All packs would carry a health warning covering 65% of their surface (equivalent to 2/3rd), front and back, positioned at the top of the pack and the brand will appear at the bottom of the pack. At present, health warnings must cover a minimum of 30% of the packs,
- A ban on cross-border distance retail sales of tobacco products,
- Characterising flavours: fruit flavours would be banned and so would menthol but only after a phasing-out period of 5 years, after the implemenation of the Directive,
- Packs of less than 10 cigarettes will be banned and their shape standardised (it will not possible anymore to sell tobacco in perfume-like shapes),
- Electronic cigarettes should be regulated but as medicinal products only if they claim curative or preventive properties, says the approved text.
Amendment 10 in Recital 14 states: “Ingredients that increase addictiveness and toxicity should also be removed.”
Slim cigarettes are not banned. The amendment proposing that tobacco companies would have to disclose their expenditure on sponsorship and advertising was rejected.
According to the Members of the European Parliament, e-cigarettes are to be classified as tobacco, even though they in fact do not contain any tobacco. E-cigarettes should be regulated, but not be subject to the same rules as medicinal products unless they are presented as having curative or preventive properties. Those for which no such claims are made should contain no more than 30mg/ml of nicotine, should carry health warnings and should not be sold to anyone under 18 years old. Manufacturers and importers would also have to supply the competent authorities with a list of all the ingredients that they contain. E-cigarettes would be subject to the same advertising restrictions as tobacco products.
However, the EU Ministers adopted in June 2013 the opposite position, that of the European Commission, and voted for e-cigarettes to be classified as medicinal products if they contain more than 1 mg/ml of nicotine.
What is happening next?
The European Parliament granted the text Rapporteur, MEP Linda MacAvan a mandate to negotiate a first reading agreement with the Council (EU ministers). The two institutions each draft their own versions of the legislation and these are then reconciled into one in conference, a process known in the EU as a ‘trilogue’ because it involves the oversight of the Commission- this is a closed door process. Tough negotiations are expected.
MEP MacAvan, in a press conference, was hoping that the trialogue would be finished by end of this year.