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EU move on cigarettes

One of the biggest challenges the European Commission faces is to ensure that its proposal for plain packaging on cigarette products succeeds, the EU’s Director General (DG) of Health and Consumer Affairs, Ms Paola Testori Coggi, has told Irish Medical Times.

The Commission is currently working on a proposal for legislation in this area, which would require cigarette companies to indicate the additives contained in their products. The proposal is to also introduce in Europe — as has already occurred in Australia — plain packaging.

“The aim is to reduce the attractiveness of cigarette packaging,” said Testori Coggi. “At the moment, all ingredients in food must be indicated. With cigarettes, on the other hand, makers are not obliged to indicate all the additives.”

While some additives are needed, others increase addiction and enhance the taste. “We want to oblige industry to indicate all the additives on the packaging,” the DG said.

A total of €13 million will be devoted to a new pan-European campaign to encourage smokers to quit. John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health, has launched phase 2 of the European Commission’s anti-smoking campaign. He announced that over 500,000 Europeans to date have demonstrated their support for the campaign — ‘Ex-smokers are Unstoppable’ — by accessing its social media pages.

“The campaign is expected to last for three years,” said Testori Coggi. The basic web-based ‘coaching tools’ will remain the same, although the publicity campaigns will employ new approaches.  The EU Commission also plans to put forward a proposal for the revision of the 2001 Tobacco Products Directive in 2012, to strengthen and adapt it to developments of tobacco products as well as advances in science.

A central pillar of tobacco control is EU legislation on tobacco products and advertising and the Directive on Tobacco Advertising (2003) bans cross-border advertising of tobacco products. It also bans sponsorship of cross-border events.

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