EU Parliament approves tougher anti-tobacco laws

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Increasing the size of health warnings on cigarette packets, banning flavours and new regulation on electronic cigarettes. These are some of the measures that MEPs approved on Wednesday as part of stricter EU laws on selling and marketing tobacco products.

Aimed at making cigarettes less attractive to young people, the European Parliament backed a controversial proposal that saw the resignation of former EU health commissioner John Dalli earlier in 2012.

Dalli resigned after an anti-fraud investigation by the Commission linked him to attempts to influence EU tobacco legislation.

“The key thing today is that we have got the bigger majority in Parliament to agree with 28 governments in Europe that we are gonna become world leaders again on tobacco control and I think that is a very big step forward.” said British S&D MEP Linda Mcavan.

The new legislation was already approved by EU health ministers earlier in December and will make it mandatory for all cigarette packs to carry picture warnings covering 65% of the  pack.

Sales of e-cigarettes will also be regulated, but it will be up to EU countries to decide where they can be sold.

The new law will also ban flavourings in cigarettes, including a phase out of menthol.

“Contrary to what some organisations, particularly linked to industry, have tried to portray, this is not a directive that prohibits smoking or prohibits e-cigarretes, it just regulates them I think we have a duty to do so within an internal market.” said EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg.

EU member states will have two years to implement the new legislation.

Current laws require health warnings to cover only 30% of the front of the pack and 40% of the back.

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