European lawmakers have approved sweeping new regulations to curb smoking, including limits on electronic cigarettes, bigger warnings on cigarette packs and a ban on menthol.

The European Parliament vote in Strasbourg on Tuesday came after months of bitter debate.

The parliament voted to impose warning labels covering 65 percent of cigarette packs, rejecting a measure for blank packaging instead. Legislators also put new limits on advertising for electronic cigarettes, but stopped short of restricting them to therapeutic use voted to ban menthol as of 2022, among other flavorings.

Tobacco lobbyists decry the regulation as disproportionate and limiting consumer freedom. European officials advocate the benefits to public health, saying smoking related diseases cost about 25 billion euros ($34 billion) a year and around 700,000 lives across the 28 nation bloc.

11 arrested in cigarette, drug scheme with links to eastern europe – baltimore sun

Cheap+cigarettes&find_loc=hollywood%2c+ca san francisco

Eleven people were arrested Wednesday, including the owner of Health Way pharmacy on Reisterstown Road, which moved there with $300,000 in public financing and has since been recognized by the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce for its role in helping to revitalize that community’s downtown business district.

Also charged was the proprietor of the Europe Restaurant, just down the street and over the city line. The business, tucked away along the busy corridor without a visible sign, is popular among area Russians.

Authorities said most members of the family are of Azerbaijani descent.

Family members used the pharmacy and restaurant to further their illegal trade, authorities said. The defendants are accused of buying cigarettes in Maryland and reselling them in New York, where the taxes are higher.

Pharmacy owner Salim Yusufov was charged with selling prescription drugs from Germany and Eastern Europe that are not approved by the FDA, according to a second indictment.

Authorities say he received more than $81,000 in “kickbacks” for the contraband cigarette transactions, and that money was laundered though the business. He could not be reached for comment and did not have a lawyer listed in online court records.

Baltimore County gave Health Way a loan in 2010 to help it move from a nearby strip mall to its current location on Reisterstown Road and Sudbrook Lane. Under the terms of the loan, the business has not yet been required to pay back the money.

The loan was intended to help the Yusufov family demolish vacant properties to make way for the 10,000 square foot retail and office center now anchored by the pharmacy. The indictment Wednesday left business leaders wondering what would become of the crucial intersection.

“I’m shocked that this is all taking place,” said Jessica Normington, executive director of the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce. “People were in and out all the time.”

Normington said she worried about the specter of a “big vacant building where there was once a thriving pharmacy.”

County officials, who awarded the loan from a $1 million fund intended to revitalize downtown Pikesville, said they reviewed the pharmacy owner’s financial history before granting the loan. The business also borrowed more than $1.7 million from Northwest Savings Bank, according to county loan documents.

“Prior to issuing the loan, the County conducted a full review of credit reports, as did the private bank that provided funding for the project,” county spokeswoman Fronda Cohen said in an email. “The County and the bank have rights to call the note in default for illegal activity, which is typically included in all of the County loan documents.”