Main elements of the proposal
Labelling and Packaging: All cigarette and roll-your-own (RYO) packages must contain a combined picture and text health warning covering 75 per cent of the front and the back of the package and must carry no promotional elements. The current information on tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide, which is perceived as misleading, is replaced by an information message on the side of the pack that tobacco smoke contains more than 70 substances causing cancer. Member states remain free to introduce plain packaging in duly justified cases.
Ingredients: An electronic reporting format for ingredients and emissions will be introduced. The proposal foresees a prohibition for cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco that have characterising flavours and a prohibition of products with increased toxicity and addictiveness.
Smokeless tobacco and extension of the scope of the Directive: The ban on oral tobacco products (snus) is maintained, except for Sweden which has an exemption. All smokeless tobacco products must carry health warnings on the main surfaces of the package and products with characterising flavours cannot be sold. Novel tobacco products require prior notification.
Extension of the scope of the directive: Nicotine Containing Products (eg electronic cigarettes) below a certain nicotine threshold are allowed on the market, but must feature health warnings; above this threshold such products are only allowed if authorised as medicinal products, like nicotine replacement therapies. Herbal cigarettes will have to carry health warnings.
Cross border distance sales: A notification for internet retailers and age verification mechanism are foreseen to ensure that tobacco products are not sold to children and adolescents.
Illicit trade: A tracking and tracing system and security features (e.g. holograms) are foreseen to ensure that only products complying with the Directive are sold in the EU.
The proposal follows extensive consultation of stakeholders, including a public consultation which generated 85,000 responses. A thorough impact assessment has also been carried out, evaluating economic, social and health effects of policy options under consideration and several external studies were also commissioned.
Why a revision of EU law?
Since the current Tobacco Products Directive (2001/37/EC) was introduced in 2001, significant scientific, market and international developments have taken place. For example, new evidence on flavourings used in tobacco products and effectiveness of health warnings has become available. Novel products such as electronic cigarettes have entered the market and recent marketing strategies involve the use of attractive packaging and flavours.
At the international level, the EU and all of its member states have ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which entered into force in February 2005. Consequence, some of the provisions in the 2001 directive have become outdated.
Member states have also taken different regulatory approaches resulting in a divergence between member states' laws on the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products.
Today's proposal is responding to all these developments as well as to requests from the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers and indeed the Commission's own report on the Application of the Tobacco Products Directive of 2007 and 2009 which identified potential areas for improvement.
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