February 1st, 2013
After 2 years of consultation, in December of 2012, The European Union has proposed that large restrictions be put on tobacco branding, packaging, warning labels and graphics, cigarette size, tobacco products with large amounts of flavoring, and restrictions and reclassification of electronic cigarettes. Yet this did not come easy, with the forceful industry lobbying that has been put upon the Union during this period of time. Even if the law is passed, based on public health grounds, finalizing could take up to two more years.
The Tobacco Products Directive’s main goal is to make smoking less alluring, and to dismay young people from picking up the dreadful tobacco smoking habit. Since Europe has the highest amount of smokers than any other region in the world, it is imperative that the youth be better informed of the risks associated with smoking. In hopes that the new regulations may lower this statistic in the years to come.
The Directive’s main belief is that tobacco products should taste and look how tobacco products actually taste and look. That the consumer should be aware of the actuality of the product, and not blind-sided by fancy brand names and young consumer driven packaging and design. If these new policies were to be passed, the bans on cigarettes containing large amounts of flavorings such as, vanilla and menthol, would be restricted. Reason being, the over use of flavoring in a tobacco product hides the real taste of the additives and chemicals that are actually in the cigarettes. Another, would be to continue the ban on the harmful chewing tobacco, Snus. Also, to restrict the sale of slimmer sized cigarets which are obviously marketed toward younger women.
If the European Parliament approves the new laws, graphic visual and written warnings must take up to at least 75 percent of the packaging, leaving only 25 percent for branding. The health warnings would reside on the front of packs, instead of on the sides, like they currently do now. The warnings on the front would have to be at least 30 percent. And the EU governments may also become free to completely band any form of branding, meaning plain packaging, which is the tobacco industry’s worst fear. The packs would then be completely covered with the graphic pictorial health warnings that are being issued. It has been proven that these images have greater impact than just the plain text warnings.
In recent years, the electronic cigarette industry has boomed in Europe, with especially German shops popping up all over. But the directive new policies would also require that e-cigs containing more than an appropriated amount of nicotine, would only be available in stores like pharmacies. Essentially making the reclassification of the product, for medicinal purposes only. Also, it would require that certain quantities of flavorings in the electronic cigarettes would be banned. Yet this change to making it a medicinal product is not necessary, and it would burden the industry’s opportunity at offering smokers a better alternative.
In closing, these new regulations, if passed, could have quite the impact on the tobacco and electronic cigarette industries. Yet, hopefully during revision of the new laws, the directive realizes that electronic cigarettes regulation and reclassification is not necessary nor ethical.