The bloc’s parliament approved new rules on Wednesday aimed at curbing smoking.

“By ensuring that tobacco products look and taste like tobacco products, the new rules will help to reduce the number of people who start smoking in the EU,” Tonio Borg, the bloc’s health commissioner, said on Tuesday.

He argued that tobacco has a “devastating effect” on health, pointing to estimates that 700,000 Europeans die of tobacco related diseases every year, that smokers live an average of 14 years less than nonsmokers and that they spend more years “in poor health”.

In a world first Australia introduced plain packaging in late 2012 with all cigarettes and tobacco products now sold in drab olive brown packs.

The UK is set to follow Australia’s lead with England likely to introduce plain packs before the 2015 election.

The Scottish government is aiming for a 2014 15 implementation while the Republic of Ireland is already examining legislation.

The new measures in the EU have been controversial and the focus of intense lobbying by the tobacco industry.

Critics argue the reforms will limit consumer choice, fuel the illegal trade in cigarettes, cut government revenues and cause job losses.

The new legislation will require tobacco companies to cover 65 per cent of the front and back of their packages with health warnings, including graphic photos, for instance, of diseases caused by smoking. Countries wishing to introduce plain packaging could do so.

Flavoured tobacco products with high sales volumes will be banned.

“The new measures … will help to prevent the next generation of smokers from being recruited,” said British EU MP Linda McAvan, who shepherded the proposals through the legislature.

“The overwhelming majority of smokers start before their 18th birthday.”

The parliament approved the measures in a 514 66 vote, with 58 abstentions.

EU governments are now expected to grant the final approval to the tobacco reforms on March 14. The move should be a formality, since member states already informally agreed to the compromise package with parliament in December.

Countries would then have two years to incorporate the new rules into their national laws.

In 2012, 28 per cent of the EU’s 500 million citizens were believed to be smokers. Some 700,000 Europeans are estimated to die of tobacco related diseases every year.

Campaigners welcome eu cigarette vote (from the northern echo)

Courthouse news service
Campaigners welcome EU cigarette vote

5 08pm Wednesday 26th February 2014 in News By Joe Willis, Regional Chief Reporter

REG LESS THAN Campaigners welcome EU cigarette vote

CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed new rules aimed at cutting smoking voted for by the European Parliament.

The revised EU Tobacco Products Directive will lead to larger and more graphic health warnings on cigarettes.

Flavoured cigarettes will eventually be banned, while e cigarettes will be regulated for the first time.

Ailsa Rutter, director of anti smoking North East campaign group Fresh, welcomed the directive, saying it was a massive opportunity to reduce the harm of smoking.

She added It is vital now that the UK Government introduces standardised packaging, reducing the appeal of glossy packs to children and ending the myth some cigarettes are healthier than others.