Menthol cigarettes could be banned by EU

Packs of ten cigarettes could be prohibited in accordance with a European suggestion to reduce smoking.

The EU’s Health and Consumer Commissioner as well presented plans to prohibit menthol cigarettes and to oblige firms to place a picture warning on three quarters of their packages.

A pack with 20 cigarettes

20 Cigarettes Pack

The plan is to make smoking less appealing to youngsters, who are more probably to buy small packets of cigarettes. Children are also more probably to buy flavoured cigarettes such as menthol and strawberry.

On December 18, the Department of Health in London said ministers were examining the suggestions, which will have to be pledged by all Europe’s health ministers before they can proceed.

The EU demands the new rules to become operational across the continent by 2016.

According with the proposals, packs of less than 20 cigarettes would be prohibited, as would ‘slim’ cigarettes.

Talks over the questionable plans have happened with the tobacco industry and health campaigners for years, and they focus on the use in cigarettes, roll-ups and ‘smokeless tobacco products’ flavoured with menthol, vanilla and strawberry.

Such ‘characterising flavours’ will be prohibited in accordance with the new legislation, if authorized by Euro MPs and EU health ministers.

Existing health warning images will be doubled in size and the regulations will extend to products not particularly included so far, such as ‘electronic’ cigarettes and herbal cigarettes.

Chewing and nasal tobacco will have to include specific labelling and controls on components.

Present rules have been outdated long ago, the Commission said. Considerable modifications have been made, such as new scientific evidence on the effect of flavourings, and clearer data about the efficiency of health warning labels.

A spokesman for Hamburg-based Reemstma, a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco, said the draft proposals were in breach of German and European law.

E-cigarettes have joined the sector, and Brussels is worried about the continued use of what it calls ‘appealing’ packaging and flavours.

Electronic cigarettes, used by a lot of smokers as a safer alternative, would have to have health warning labels, as they include nicotine.

‘This is plain packaging by the back door, and by that token it is a serious intervention into the intellectual property rights and trademark rights of the producer,’ she said. ‘It damages brand values that firms have developed through the years.’

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