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MEPs have backed stricter EU rules on tobacco products.

Cigarettes containing flavours such as vanilla or menthol will be banned from 2020.

The vote comes after a fierce lobbying campaign from the tobacco industry.

“Seven hundred thousand Europeans die prematurely because of cigarette and tobacco use,” said Swedish Green MEP Carl Schlyter.

“That’s four times more than suicide, drugs, workplace accidents and traffic accidents combined with AIDS,” he added.

Cigarette packs will now have to carry graphic pictorial warnings that cover 65 percent of the box.

“The effect will be that tobacco products will looks like tobacco products, not like cosmetics,” EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg told euronews.

Electronic cigarettes will be regulated for general sale at the EU level, but member states can decide if they want to classify them as ‘medicines’ or tobacco products.

The tobacco industry said the new rules will lead to job losses, encourage smuggling and cut government tax revenues.

Copyright 2014 euronews

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European union approves shocking tobacco regulation : top headlines : md connects

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The European Union has announced the approval of proposed new tobacco regulations that legislators expect will cut the number of smokers by 2.4 million, according to the BBC.

The new regulation, if enacted, would require graphic picture warnings that cover 65 percent of the front and back of every pack of cigarettes. The size of cigarettes packs also would be regulated, requiring each packet to contain at least 20 cigarettes so that there is adequate room for the picture warnings. Also, flavored cigarettes which are reportedly popular among teens would be banned from E.U. markets entirely in an effort to cut down on underage smoking.

Regulation of electronic cigarette products would even be enacted, restricting the maximum nicotine concentration per liquid nicotine cartridge in an e cigarette.

European Union Ministers are expected to give their endorsement of these new regulatory rules this March, and member states will have two years to introduce the legislation after this May.

The European Commission said in a statement that the new rules were designed to deter young people from becoming addicted to tobacco and nicotine products. The U.S. similarly is trying to combat teen smoking, but in a much less aggressive manner, spending $115 million on an anti smoking campaign that will expose teens to the same “cost of smoking” themes and images that will be seen every day on the E.U. warning pictures.

Still, dropping money rather than legislation might have been the right choice for the U.S. While their goal is to dissuade underage smokers, officials say the new E.U. regulations will lead to a two percent drop in the amount of cigarettes purchased by all demographics over the next five years.

Meanwhile the U.S. federal government, which makes approximately $25,000,000 off tobacco tax annually, expects to decrease the number of U.S. teen smokers by at least 100,000 a year without making any significant impact on overall tobacco sales to adults.

Advocates of anti tobacco policy are calling the E.U. regulations groundbreaking, but critics say that if the U.S. can pull off what the E.U. intends to do without hurting federal income, then the E.U. is becoming nothing more than a “nanny state,” to protect its teens.