Taxation and Customs Union

Excise Duties: Tobacco Legislation

Excise duties for tobacco products are regulated principally through Directive 2011/64/EU.

The Directive defines the product categories, structure and minimum rates for excise duties on manufactured tobacco.

EU excise duty rules broadly differentiate between:



Under Directive 2011/64/EU, excise duty on cigarettes must consist of two components:

  • a specific component i.e. a fixed amount per 1000 cigarettes.
  • an ad valorem component i.e. a percentage of the retail selling price

These two components must be the same for cigarettes of all price categories.

Minimum rates are set out in the Directive, which Member States must respect, although they are free to go above these minima in the taxes they apply.
See Excise Duties: Cigarettes for more information


Other Tobacco Products

For tobacco other than cigarettes, Member States can choose between a specific duty or an ad valorum duty, or may apply a mixture of the two.

Minimum rates are set out for three different categories of tobacco products, other than cigarettes, in Directive 2011/64/EU. Member States are free to apply national rates above theses minima.

See Excise Duties: Other Tobacco for more information


Possible revision of Directive 2011/64/EU

In order to assess if Directive 2011/64/EU is still fit for purpose, the Commission carried out a Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT)-evaluation. REFIT is a programme to review the entire stock of EU legislation – to identify burdens, inconsistencies, gaps or ineffective measures and to make the necessary proposals to follow up on the findings of the review. The final external evaluation report was published in 2014. Furthermore, article 19 of Directive 2011/64/EU requires the Commission to submit every four years a report to the Council and, where appropriate a proposal for amending the Directive. The Report from the Commission to the Council has been submitted in December 2015. This report has been discussed in the Council. The Council adopted Council Conclusions on 8 March 2016 and requested the Commission to carry out the necessary studies to prepare a possible legislative proposal for revision of Directive 2011/64/EU.

Against this background and according the Better Regulation guidelines, the Commission started the preparation of an Impact Assessment. After conducting a thorough assessment, supported by an external study, the Commission decided not to revise the Directive due to the lack of data necessary to underpin a proposal and due to the fact that some issues identified in the evaluation of 2014 have since been solved at national level or have been settled. The Report from the Commission to the Council  provides more details on the decision of the Commission to not submit a legislative proposal for revision of this Directive at this moment.