The vote comes after months of wrangling from pro tobacco lobbyists and health campaigners. But MEPs will finally have their say on a range of tobacco products on Tuesday, with the expected aim of discouraging smoking throughout the EU.

They are set to impose bigger and bolder warnings on cigarette packs, a ban on flavourings like menthol and putting electronic cigarettes under tighter regulation.

E cigarettes have become one of the most popular devices among those trying to give up smoking. But some health experts say that they undermine anti smoking campaigns, while a study in a leading Canadian medical journal found that they run the risk of getting a new generation hooked on nicotine.

In light of the differing views, we have decided to wait until the emerging impact of the decision in Australia can be measured. Anna Soubry

Under EU proposals, the e cigarettes would become a medicinal product and the health warnings in text and pictures on cigarette packs sold in the EU would be bigger and bolder. Ten packs of cigarettes and slim cigarettes would also be banned.

The package of proposals, which was at the heart of the resignation of John Dalli as a European commissioner amid cash for influence allegations, has reportedly attracted an army of lobbyists for the multi billion pound industry to Strasbourg.

The vote was initially scheduled for last month but was delayed after accusations of pressure from the pro tobacco lobby.

UK position

If a majority of lawmakers back the legislation, the European parliament must still reach a compromise with EU governments on certain points before the rules can come into force, possibly next year.

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said “Smoking is one of the biggest and most stubborn challenges in public health. The UK government supports the proposed Europe wide controls that would introduce a ban on flavoured cigarettes and strict rules on front of pack health warnings.”

In Australia, cigarettes must be sold in plain olive green packets with graphic health warnings, and Ms Soubry said the UK would judge the impact it has had there.

“We take very seriously the potential for standardised packaging to reduce smoking rates but, in light of the differing views, we have decided to wait until the emerging impact of the decision in Australia can be measured, and then we will make a decision in England,” she added.

The treatment of smoke related diseases costs around 25bn euros a year, and the EU estimates that there are around 700,000 smoking related deaths annually across the 28 nation bloc.

E-cigarette row could block new eu tobacco rules -diplomats – chicago tribune

European cigarettes to new york

BRUSSELS, Dec 16 (Reuters) Disagreement over how to
regulate the booming market for electronic cigarettes is holding
up a deal on strict new rules governing tobacco products in the
European Union, diplomats said on Monday.

In talks aimed at finalising the legislative proposals by
the end of the year, the European Parliament has pushed for a
light touch approach to e cigarettes, which it regards as a less
harmful alternative to smoking.

But with a lack of clear evidence on the long term health
impact of e cigarettes, EU governments have sought more
restrictive rules, saying the amounted of nicotine contained in
the cigarettes should be limited.

That could threaten the continued growth of a fast growing
market that some analysts say could eclipse the $700 billion a
year regular cigarette market within 10 years.

Unless negotiators can reach a compromise in two final
rounds of talks this week, the row could delay by up to two
years the adoption of a wider package of tough new anti tobacco
controls. They include larger health warnings on cigarette
packets and a ban on menthol and other tobacco flavourings.

The alternative would be to leave e cigarettes unregulated
at EU level as at present, leaving each government to decide
individually what rules if any to apply.

“I don’t think we will get a deal on e cigarettes,” said one
EU diplomat close to the talks, who spoke on condition of
anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to journalists.

The main sticking point is the parliament’s demand that
e cigarettes can be sold with refillable nicotine cartridges,
rather than as single use items as demanded by member states.

Several governments, including Britain and Germany, are
concerned that at the nicotine concentration level of 20
milligrams per millilitre being discussed, one 10 ml refill
cartridge would contain more nicotine than a carton of 200

“The parliament has said that unless refillable cartridges
are allowed, it will veto the package,” said another senior EU
official involved in the discussions.