Menthol cigarettes could be banned as European Union ministers approved the first stage of a proposal to make smoking less attractive.

Poland is the main country to oppose the measure, as one of Europe’s biggest tobacco producers, after Italy.

EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs Tonio Borg said ministers had taken “an important first step”.

The proposal originally aimed at stopping young women from being attracted to smoking so called alluring ‘slim’ designs, and to stop young people becoming hooked on menthol cigarettes when the tobacco taste is disguised.

Tobacco should look like tobacco and not like a perfume or a candy, Borg said.

But ‘slim’ cigarettes will not now be subject to the same ban, should the proposal become law, according to the New York Times.

The proposal would also force gruesome pictures and information about smoking related health problems to cover 75 percent of the front and the back of cigarette packs.

Any new regulations would require the proposals to be voted through the European Parliament. Only then do they become law.

Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have also opposed the plan.

A study by the firm Roland Berger, commissioned by cigarette firm Philip Morris International, predicted that if the legislation passed, the European Union would lose 70,000 to 175,000 jobs. It also predicted that slim and mentol brands were likely to become available on the black market.

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