Bruno Waterfield has been the Brussels correspondent for the Telegraph since 2007. He has been reporting on politics and European affairs for over 13 years, first from Westminster and then from Brussels since January 2003. EU goes menthol

By Bruno Waterfield Last updated July 2nd, 2013

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By seeking to ban menthol cigarettes the European Union is making a virtue of discrimination and is enshrining inequality before the law.

Tonio Borg, the EU health commisisoner, proposes a “menthol” tobacco products directive
(photo European Commission)

The ban is one element of a whole package of bad legislation tabled by the European Commission last December in the form of the Tobacco Products Directive here s a flavour.

Meeting 10 days ago, EU health ministers, including Britain’s Jeremy Hunt, agreed with the commission to legislate a ban on the use of cigarettes and roll your own tobacco with characterising flavours such as fruit flavours, chocolate or menthol .

This is to make sure that tobacco products taste and smell like tobacco products, the ministers agreed.

Here there is a prejudice (quite an absurd one) that a smoker might not realise that she was smoking tobacco if she was puffing away on a menthol cig, with the assumption that young people are particularly stupid in this regard.

The staff document, accompanying the directive last December, makes this prejudice explicit. It expresses the mistaken belief that children are drawn to experiment with smoking because they think cigarettes are a form of candy rather than understanding that tobacco’s appeal is a rebel and adult cachet. There are already plenty of sensible laws prohibiting tobacco sales to children

The use of ingredients for aromatic purposes also raises the issue that they may make tobacco products more attractive to young people and children in particular. Fowles et al., in a study of the chemical factors influencing the addictiveness and attractiveness of cigarettes in New Zealand, examined the use of flavourings such as fruit extracts and sweeteners in cigarettes and argue that since children are well known to seek out sweet tasting foods it is not unreasonable to assume that any added sweetness in tobacco smoke would be received favourably by the child experimenting with smoking , the document argues.

Underlining the prejudice against menthol and explicitly discriminating against young people , the legislation goes on to exempt pipe tobacco, which is also given characterising flavours , because it is used by older consumers . Seriously. This is an explicitly stated goal for the law.

The proposal exempts tobacco products other than cigarettes, roll your own tobacco and smokeless tobacco products, i.e. cigars, cigarillos and pipe tobacco from some provisions such as the prohibition of products with characterising flavours. This exemption is justified considering that these products are mainly consumed by older consumers, while the focus of this proposal is to regulate tobacco products in such a way as they do not encourage young people to start using tobacco. The exemption shall be removed if there is a substantial change of circumstances (in terms of sales volume or prevalence level among young people), says the directive.

If cigarettes are to be banned (and I don’t think they should be) then prohibition should be for everyone, young and old alike. Should freedom, in this case to smoke a menthol cigarette, be restricted for everyone because of (prejudiced) assumptions about what “young people” might do with it? Isn’t it grossly patronising to assume “young people” are so infantile that they are in special need of protection by EU officialdom?

In this case, the full weight of coercive law will be used to ban a product solely because it might be appealing to young people. A similar product will be exempted because in the prejudiced world view of EU officialdom only old people use it. That exemption will be removed if young people take up the pipe. This is open discrimination.

Public health law, and the coercive apparatus of the state, will be used to modify the behaviour of the young but not the old. This is law that openly has discrimination as its goal and that enshrines inequality as a legislative good or principle.

This is bad law. Bonkers menthol.

Tags bans, EU, menthol ban, nannying, scaremongering, smoking

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Excise duties: structure and tax rates applied on cigarettes and other manufactured tobacco – european commission

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The European Commission has launched an on line consultation to ascertain the views from interested parties on the review and possible changes to the structure and rates of excise duty applied on cigarettes and other manufactured tobacco. The consultation is relevant to businesses involved in the manufacturing and distribution of tobacco products, health organisations, government administrations, non governmental organisations, other organisations representing consumers, and other stakeholders.

The consultation is based on a consultation document(112 kB) (Annex(68 kB) ) which describes the problems and possible solutions identified by the Commission services.

The purpose of the consultation is to obtain feedback on excise problems in these areas and on options for changing the existing provisions in the Tobacco Excise Directives. The opinions and views expressed in response to this consultation will be taken into account in a proposal on this subject that the Commission will present at the end of 2007.

The consultation document should not be seen as reflecting the views of the Commission of the European Communities.

Interested parties are invited to submit their comments by 1 July 2007 at the latest.

Comments may be sent by letter, fax or electronic mail for the attention of Mr Frank Van Driessche