Published: Tue, 08 October 2013
MEPs backed an amendment tabled by Sean Kelly MEP to extend health warnings on cigarette packs from covering half of the packaging to 65 per cent, under the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), in a crucial vote in Strasbourg today (Tuesday).
“Today’s vote in favour of the Tobacco Products Directive is a big win for the health of European citizens, despite an excessive lobbying campaign by the tobacco industry.
“The new tobacco rules agreed by Parliament will pave the way for a realistic and achievable agreement with the Council of Ministers. By giving the go-ahead, MEPs have cleared the way for the faster implementation of tobacco rules with the aim of preventing more Europeans becoming addicted to harmful tobacco.
“The amendment I tabled, to extend graphic health warnings on cigarette packets to cover 65 per cent of packaging, was approved by a majority. Larger warning labels are more effective at highlighting the dangers of smoking. So the fact that I could help garner enough support to increase the extent of current warnings on packets is a positive development in the fight against smoking addiction.
“Another positive is the phasing out of so-called ‘flavourings’ such as in menthol cigarettes,” Mr Kelly said in Strasbourg after the vote.
The ingredients of tobacco products will be subject to stricter standards in future. A so-called positive list of substances shall determine which ingredients can be used and which are banned.
The Ireland South MEP expressed disappointment that other elements were not supported: “I supported a ban on ‘slim’ cigarettes which unfortunately was not agreed today. However, MEPs did provide a greater legal certainty for e-cigarettes which is welcome and means they can now be regulated with the health of the consumer in mind.”
“Smoking-related deaths across the EU stand at around 700,000 per year. Unless urgent action is taken, the WHO has warned that the annual global death toll from tobacco-related deaths could rise to more than eight million by 2030,” he said.
Mr Kelly, a member of the European Parliament’s Industry Committee, complimented the strong lead shown by Ireland’s Minister for Health Dr James Reilly on this issue.
“The Council must do all in its power to negotiate with Parliament in order to finalise these new tobacco rules quickly,” Mr Kelly added.