EU Health Ministers have agreed to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes across the union.

The Council was chaired by Minister James Reilly and agreed on a range of measures aimed at reducing the number of people taking up smoking.

The agreement includes new rules on how tobacco products should be labelled, packaged and manufactured. It also targets product ‘attractiveness’, with young people in mind.

However a further proposal on banning slim cigarettes, seen as more popular among younger smokers has been rejected.

In addition to the ban on menthol flavoured tobacco products the Council of Ministers agreed to increase the size of the health warnings on cigarette packets.

Minister Reilly warmly welcomed the outcome, saying it was “a remarkable achievement for the Irish Presidency, which set the ambitious target of reaching Council agreement on this important file in the space of six months”.

“The fact that this has happened represents a huge step forward in the fight against tobacco use, as well as a victory for public health against those unwilling to acknowledge the devastating consequences of tobacco addiction in our society” he added.

Ministers agreed on

  • mandatory combined (picture and text) health warnings covering 65% of all cigarette and roll your own tobacco packs
  • minimum packet dimensions to ensure greater visibility of health warnings and rule out the possibility of lipstick style packs popular amongst young people
  • a ban on tobacco products with a characterising flavour other than tobacco, like fruit or menthol, seen to facilitate smoking uptake by masking the tobacco flavour
  • provisions for the setting up of a new EU wide tracking and tracing system to combat illicit trade
  • stricter rules for nicotine containing products which will require those over a certain level of nicotine to be authorised as pharmaceuticals

Reaching agreement on the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive had been the main priority of the Irish Presidency.

The European Commission says tobacco is the largest single cause of avoidable death in the European Union. The EU is working to prevent people from taking up smoking, help smokers to quit, protect people from exposure to tobacco smoke and restrict tobacco advertising and marketing.

The Commission says the number of smokers in the EU is around one third of the population and that the associated health problems include some 695,000 smoking related deaths each year the equivalent of three jumbo jets crashing each day.

Almost half of those dying are aged between 35 69.

A study published earlier this month in the British Medical Journal shows that an average employee who smokes costs around 4,600 more a year than a non smoker due to time off, smoking breaks and healthcare costs.

Plain packaged cigarettes have already been spearheaded by Minister Reilly, which are set come into force in 2014.

Speaking in Luxembourg, the Minister said this has been his most important priority.

How many packs of cigarettes can i bring from eu to uk (flying with ryanair)?

How did marlboro cigarettes get their name
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