HEALTH : TOBACCO DIRECTIVE: MENTHOL CIGARETTES TO BE BANNED.

 
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The European Commission has followed through with its threats on packs and cigarettes that are too "attractive". On 19 December 2012, it adopted a legislative proposal that would spell the end of king size and menthol cigarettes and would further regulate packaging. "This proposal aims to deter young people from starting to smoke. In particular, we hope to reduce the number of smokers by 2% by better informing them and by helping them make the right decision. As for whether they will make that decision, that is their choice," said the new Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg. The proposal for a directive was passed on for approval to the European Parliament and the Council. The EP's Committee on the Environment and Public Health (ENVI) will organise a preliminary public hearing on the topic on 25 February.

The most obvious change is that the Commission is proposing to better regulate the appearance of cigarette packs. Currently, all member states have introduced written health warnings (such as Smoking kills') but only ten of them have also introduced pictorial health warnings. The EU executive is proposing that all cigarette packs should contain a combined picture and text health warning covering 75% of the front and the back of the package and that the sides of the pack should include the following warnings: Smoking kills - stop now' and Tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer'. Contrary to what is dictated by Australian law, the colour of packs and fonts used on packs would not be regulated.

Another sizeable change is the ban on flavoured cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco (RYO) and smokeless tobacco products. The Commission is proposing to ban products with a characterising flavour - such as vanilla, chocolate or mint - without banning additives that are present in small quantities. However, it would be compulsory to provide information about these additives: producers, importers of tobacco products would have to make a complete list of all ingredients used in the manufacturing of products, as well as justify the presence of ingredients and rank them in order of quantities contained. Cigars, cigarillos and pipe tobacco would, however, be exempt from this measure "as they are less attractive and their use is constantly diminishing," Borg commented. Lastly, contrary to what had been discussed under the aegis of former Commissioner John Dalli, the proposal authorises smokeless tobacco products...

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