Smoking kills around 700,000 people in Europe, roughly the population of Frankfurt, every year. Millions more suffer from illnesses associated with smoking such as heart disease, cancer and respiratory illness.
A new EU plan aims to tackle smoking and alleviate the burden tobacco related illnesses put on healthcare systems. The legislation will ban strong flavours that mask the tobacco and prevent misleading words being printed on packaging, such as “light” and “mild”.
The current EU laws are 11 years old and considered outdated. We now have more information on flavouring used in tobacco and the effectiveness of health warnings. Different EU countries have introduced varying laws on the sale, packaging and manufacturing of tobacco products. The result is more protection in some countries than others.
The new rules will cover the following aspects:
- Labelling and packaging – every packet of rolling tobacco and cigarette must have a health warning and picture covering at least 75% of the surface.
- Ingredients – all cigarettes, rolling and smokeless tobacco that have a strong flavour that disguises the taste of tobacco will be banned, as will products with higher-than-normal toxicity and addictiveness.
- Illegal trade – a tracking and tracing system, along with security features such as holograms, will make sure that only products complying with EU rules are sold in the EU.
There will also be increased restrictions on smokeless tobacco such as snus (a form of snuff), and the online purchasing of tobacco products. The commission hopes these new measures will make smoking less attractive and discourage young people from starting. Some 70% of smokers currently start before the age of 18, and 94% before 25.