Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council: extracts from the press conference by the Irish Presidency and the European Commission
End production: 21/06/2013 First transmission: 21/06/2013
The Council today agreed a general approach on a revised draft EU tobacco directive aimed at making tobacco products less attractive by strengthening the rules on how tobacco products can be manufactured, presented and sold.
The deal, which was reached on the basis of a compromise proposal from the Irish Presidency, includes the following key elements: a ban on characterising flavours such as fruit flavours, chocolate or menthol or which contain additives that increase addictiveness and toxicity, an obligation for combined picture and text health warnings to cover 65 % of the front and the back of packages of tobacco products for smoking, a ban of any misleading labelling (such as "natural" or "organic"), and the extension of the scope of the directive to novel tobacco products. The Council now has a common position to enter negotiations with the Parliament and it is hoped that the directive will be adopted during the current parliamentary mandate.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
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||SOUNDBITE (in English) James Reilly, Irish Minister for Health: Our most significant achievement was today, securing an agreed Council position on the Tobacco Directive.
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||SOUNDBITE (in English) James Reilly: Today was an important step towards ensuring that people know what tobacco products contain, know the damage they can do, and will help make sure that our children and our future generations will make knowledgeable, informed choices. And I do believe that this is a truly important step because it's about stopping the next generation ever getting hooked.
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||SOUNBITE (in English) Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy: It is important, this common position, even though of course the Commission will always have to revert back to College for a final position when we start our discussing with Parliament, because it enables the Council to engage with Parliament. So now Parliament has already discussed this in the special committee, the Environment and Health Committee, regarding the Tobacco Directive. You can imagine that there are problems, and the problems not only relate to technicalities, but also to certain economic interests, which exist in some member states which have a strong production of tobacco. And as a former politician I appreciate these political sensitivities, but I think that today the Health Ministers managed to look forward in straight way, rather than taking considerations other than those relating to health into consideration. They took the life and the health of their citizens in prime consideration, which does not mean that we should not be sensitive to other interests but that the primary interest remains that of protecting health.
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||SOUNBITE (in English) Tonio Borg: On the slim cigarettes, there was a considerable number of member states who were not against the prohibition, the ban of advertising of slims. Nor were they against the ban of having slim packages, but they were against the banning of slim cigarettes themselves. That is to say, allow slim cigarettes, after all you are smoking less, but retain the ban on publicity and retain the standardised version of the size of the health warnings and of the cigarette packet. And this was the compromise reached between member states so start the discussion with the European Parliament.
||SOUNDBITE (in English) James Reilly/ I believe that e-cigarettes remain as a possible problem for us. We don't have enough research yet to show how safe they are. They do contain nicotine, a highly addictive product that causes damage in its own right. And to promote it as a safe alternative when we can't say that with certainty is problematic for me. It may be less toxic. Less toxic doesn't mean more safe, to me. And I think the jury is out on that, and I think we have to do more research, which I would encourage being done to establish the exact profile of problems that e-cigarettes have the potential to cause.