New EU anti-smoking law in the making: how does it compare to your country?




Good news in the anti-smoking front! As reported last week, a draft legislation to make tobacco products less attractive to young people in EU has just been agreed between the Council of Ministers and the Public Health Committee MEPs. This basically is a legislation update of the EU Tobacco Directive and is focusing on:

  1. Cigarette packs: According to this draft, 65% of the pack -both front and back- have to carry a health warning, in pictures (currently health warnings are required to cover 30% of the front and 40% of the back).
  2. Number of cigarettes per pack: It will no longer be allowed to sell packs with less than 20 cigarettes (although in the past there have been some voices supporting that cigarette packs with less than 20 cigarettes could help smokers to quit).
  3. E-cigarettes: Subject of ongoing debates, e-cigarettes could not be missing from this draft legislation! It is suggested that e-cigarettes are either considered to be medication (if they are advertised as quit aid) or tobacco products: in both cases, they would be regulated. Moreover, the ones considered to be tobacco products cannot contain more than 20 mg/ml of nicotine.
  4. Flavourings and additives: the plan is to ban menthol cigarettes from 2020 and not to allow any flavourings in tobacco products, which would make them attractive to the younger people. Flavourings will still be allowed for waterpipes though.

Reading these new plans, I couldn’t help but wondering how is the legislation according to non EU countries? We get a lot of reports for North America and Australia, but what about other countries?

I’ll start: We are based in Switzerland, where a smoking ban in closed spaces such as restaurants and bars has been effective on a federal level since 2010. Almost 26% of the population is still smoking and warning messages (and pictures) in cigarette packs have already been a reality for a while (for a full gallery see here). [I’m not sure if they take part 65% of the pack, but they are quite present, as the warning is in 3 out of 4 official languages of the country!] Smoking laws are generally adhered to, something that is not the case in Greece, where I come from. Theoretically, there are smoking ban laws there but in reality they are hardly followed (source: personal experience from repeated visits numerous times per year since the anti-smoking law came in effect in 2010). Greeks are champions in smoking and minors who smoke have started doing so at the age of 12! There are health warnings on the cigarette packs (not with pictures though).

How is it where you live? What do you think could be done in addition? Please add your comments! And if you have some extra time, visit this site with a lot of information on tobacco labeling (is your country included?) or play tobacco related games, kindly offered by the Swiss state!

 *picture credit




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