Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

May 20th, 2016:

Our tobacco laws just changed – here’s everything you need to know

Major changes to tobacco laws have come into force today, May 20.

One of the most high-profile changes comes in the form of new standardised packaging – which will see all cigarette cartons be the same drab green colour.

At the same time, we are now no longer able to get 10-packs of cigarettes (sorry social smokers) – and we can start saying goodbye to menthol smokes.

There’s a lot to take in with the new laws, so we’ve put it all together for you.

Wait, what is this new law?

It is officially known as the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, which is part of the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (or TPD for short).

Basically it’s an overhaul of our laws around the sale, advertising and packaging of tobacco products, such as cigarettes and vapes.

What’s happening to cigarette packaging?

The introduction of standardised, plain packaging is a major success for smoking health campaigners.

Under the new law, all cigarette boxes will be one uniform colour – a dull green – and will be the exact same size and shape.

New cigarette packaging laws are coming into force today, which means all boxes will have to be the same olive green colour, with the same font, colour, size, case and text appearance. Dr Nick Hopkinson, spokesperson for the British Lung Foundation, says evidence shows plain packaging works to cut smoking

All of the fonts will now be a standardised too, as will the colour, size, case and alignment of any text.

And logos will be strictly prohibited (a fact that caused particular contention with four tobacco giants).

They will also have much larger health warnings which, with a graphic picture and text, will take up 65 per cent of the front and the back of the boxes.

Campaigners from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and Cancer Research have hailed the packaging change as a victory, mainly because of… well, this.

Shops now have a year to get rid of the boxes they still have, before they’re totally replaced in May 2017.

I usually smoke menthols, they’re okay right?

Nope – from today menthols are going to be phased out, ready for a total ban in May 2020.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, told ‘There is evidence to show that menthol in cigarettes makes it easier for children to try smoking and to become addicted regular smokers.

‘That’s why ASH supports the ban on menthol cigarettes.’

Did you say I can’t buy 10-packs anymore?

Yep – the cheap 10-packs of cigarettes are now withdrawn from production.

Shops and companies now have a year to basically sell up stock, before they’re totally replaced in May 2017.

It’s hoped that by getting rid of the small, cheap packets, fewer people will be tempted to take up smoking.

You also won’t be able to buy bags of loose tobacco that weigh less than 30g.

What about my lite, organic, all-natural smokes?

Stop right there! Cigarettes that are branded ‘lite’, ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are now a thing of the past.

This is because these descriptors are actually pretty misleading, making you subconsciously think that type of cigarette is healthy.

What about shisha and other flavoured tobacco?

Flavoured tobacco is now banned outright.

However shisha, aka hookah or water pipe, is exempt from this ban.

A Department of Health spokeswoman told that this is because shisha tobacco doesn’t sell in high enough volumes to merit being outlawed completely.

But shisha tobacco will now be subject to the same packaging laws as explained above.

What about e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are now subject to a whole new set of regulations.

For example, the advertising of vapes is now almost totally banned.

Plus, any e-cigs with a nicotine concentration above 20mg/ml will need to be licensed as a medicine and therefore subject to the same strict regulations as over-the-counter drugs.

Disgraceful effort to privilege tobacco business interests over public health has rightly failed utterly – other countries to follow UK lead

The High Court challenge to the Regulations on Standardized Plain tobacco packaging by the tobacco industry met with a humiliating defeat on Thursday, 19th of May 2016.

Thus the landmark judgment in the case will help other countries looking forward to introduce Plain Packaging. France and the Republic of Ireland have already passed legislations and other countries including Canada, Hungary, Norway and Solvenia, are expected to follow soon.

It is learnt that tobacco industry has spent millions of pounds on some of the most expensive lawyers in the country with the hope of blocking the policy. This landmark judgment is a severe defeat for the tobacco industry and it fully justifies the determination of the government to go ahead with the introduction of standardized packaging.

The standardized packaging regulations would come into effect in the UK on Friday, the 20th May 2016. All cigarettes manufactured for sale in the UK after this date must comply with standardized packaging regulations. Cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco will be sold in drab brown packages which have had all the attractive features and colours removed.

The judgment by the Justice Green rejects every argument the industry put forward in court. It is highly critical of the industry’s use of expert evidence it commissioned to back its case and its failure to disclose any internal assessments on how packaging design works for children and young people what the effect on standardized packaging on sales is likely to be. The judgment also notes that the great mass of the expert evidence put to the court by the tobacco industry was neither peer reviewed nor published in an appropriate scientific of technical journal.

At present two thirds of current smokers started when they were children and research shows that dull standardized packs are less attractive to young people. The tobacco industry is now considering whether or not to appeal.

Source of Information: Action on Smoking & Health ASH – UK

– Asian Tribune –

Top tobacco companies lose plain packaging appeal

Britain’s High Court has rejected a legal challenge brought by the world’s top four tobacco companies against making plain packaging compulsory on cigarettes.

Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Brands had argued the law, due to come into force on Friday, unlawfully took away their intellectual property.

“It is wrong to view this issue purely in monetised terms alone,” the ruling said on Thursday.

“There is a significant moral angle which is embedded in the regulations which is about saving children from a lifetime of addiction, and children and adults from premature death and related suffering and disease.”

Plain packaging means a ban on all marketing on tobacco packages — including colours, logos and distinctive fonts — to try to make smoking less attractive, especially to young people.

Governments around the world are cracking down on the deadly habit that kills about 6 million people a year.

Australia became the first country to mandate cigarettes must be sold in plain packages when it passed a law in 2012.


Goodbye, menthol: new EU-wide cigarette regulations come into force

Say goodbye to those slim ‘lipstick’ style cigarettes. Adios to that menthol, fruit or vanilla flavoured tobacco.

New tobacco regulations that form part of the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive come into force today, and they bring with them significant changes to the manufacturing, sale and presentation of tobacco products.

Tobacco products with flavours designed to mask the taste or smell of tobacco are out, although menthol smokers have until 2020 to kick the habit.

Health warnings on tobacco products must now cover at least 65 per cent of the front and back packages, and the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide labels smokers are used to will be replaced with the messages “smoking kills” as well as “Tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer”.

Other tobacco products such as pipe tobacco, cigars, and cigarillos must carry a general warning and an additional text warning. Cigarette packets can contain a minimum of 20 cigarettes, thereby outlawing the 10-packs popular with young people in other EU countries.

All tobacco products must also report their ingredients in a standardised electronic format.

Electronic cigarettes are also regulated. They can contain nicotine concentrations of no more than 20mg/ml with cartridges no bigger than 2ml. The Commission has also said it will monitor e-cigarettes’ uptake and report back in five years’ time.

An estimated 500 people died through causes directly attributable to smoking in Malta between 1999 and 2013.

In Malta, the average annual deaths attributable to smoking in males and females between 1999-2013 were estimated to be 396 and 111 deaths respectively. Another concern is the take up of smoking by youths. Research shows that 70 per cent of smokers start before the age of 18 and 94 per cent before the age of 25 years.


Plain cigarette packaging has arrived, but will it reduce smoking?

UK legislation introduced today bans the tobacco industry from using branding on their cigarette packaging. But will it change the number of smokers?

From today, brightly coloured branding will be stripped from tobacco packs when standardised (or ‘plain’) cigarette packaging legislation comes in to effect.

Cigarette packs will now be a single colour – ‘Pantone 448 C opaque couché’ (according to market research the ‘world’s ugliest colour’), and the brand name will be written in a standard font, size and location. New health warnings covering 60% of the pack will also be introduced. All cigarette packs and tobacco pouches manufactured for sale in the UK from now on will have to comply with these regulations, and within a year there should be no branded packs on shelves at all. Ireland and France are also introducing this legislation today.

But what impact will this new legislation have? After the numerous public consultations, government reports and legal battles (in both the highest European, UK and Australian courts), the government, tobacco industry, and the general public will be keen to know whether standardised packaging will actually reduce the prevalence of smoking.

It’s fair to say that nobody expects standardised packaging to be a silver bullet, and any effects of standardised packaging are likely to develop slowly. However, a large number of experiments, surveys and focus groups (many of which are summarised in two systematic reviews published in 2012 and 2013, and which Suzi Gage has blogged about before) have found that standardised packaging changes attitudes and beliefs around smoking, including reducing the appeal of smoking, increasing the noticeability of the health warnings, and preventing people from being misled about the relative health risks of different brands (people incorrectly assume that packs in lighter colours – i.e. “low tar” – are less harmful than darker coloured – i.e. “high tar” – packs).

The evidence that standardised packaging will change actual smoking behaviour is less clear, as this kind of research is difficult to do, but it is expected that as a result of these changes in attitudes and beliefs, standardised packaging will encourage some smokers to think twice about their smoking behaviour and, crucially, discourage some of the 200,000 children who start smoking every year from taking up the habit.

Quantifying the expected impact of standardised packaging on actual behaviour when implemented in the real world is difficult. Australia was the first (and, until today, the only) country in the world to introduce standardised packaging, back in December 2012. In 2015, 14 Open Access studies were published reporting the effects of standardised packaging there, finding that standardised packaging reduced the appeal of smoking and of cigarettes themselves, encouraged smoking cessation and made the health warnings more prominent. These findings support those observed in the laboratory studies and surveys conducted prior to the implementation of standardised packaging, adding weight to this previous body of literature. In addition, Australian research found no evidence for an increase in the illicit trade of cigarettes, which has been one of the tobacco industry’s main criticisms of standardised packaging policy.

But did standardised packaging change the actual numbers of smokers in Australia? Although the prevalence of smoking has been in decline in Australia for some time, an Australian government report shows that this decline has accelerated since the introduction of standardised packaging. It is estimated that standardised packaging is directly responsible (after taking into account other factors such as tax increases) for 25% of the 2.2% drop in smoking prevalence observed in the 36 months after the introduction of standardised packaging as compared with the 36 months before. This may not sound like a lot, but this is equivalent to 118,000 fewer Australians smoking as a direct result of standardised packaging. Given that two thirds of smokers are expected to die from diseases caused by tobacco use, this is a clinically meaningful decline.

This estimate is by no means perfect – short of interviewing every person in Australia, we can never know the exact number of smokers who have stopped as a direct result of this legislation or the number of teenagers who don’t start. As for the UK, we might expect to see a greater reduction in the number of smokers as compared with Australia due to our higher smoking prevalence (approximately 21% as compared with 13%) and our larger population (65.5 million as compared with 23.5 million). In the UK, the Office for National Statistics reports annual smoking prevalence, so like Australia we will be able to see whether there is a decline in prevalence in the next few years. In addition, a number of UK surveys are planned, including an online survey of 6,000 adult smokers (the Adult Tobacco Policy Survey), an in-home survey of 1,000 children (the Youth Tobacco Policy Survey) and a telephone survey of adult smokers (the Smoking Toolkit Study). Each of these will investigate differences in perceptions and experiences of smoking and cigarette packaging before and after the introduction of standardised packaging.

Standardised packaging is part of the UK’s comprehensive tobacco control strategy which includes tax increases, point of sale display bans, smoking bans and other advertising bans. Together, these strategies are expected to reduce the prevalence of smoking, and ultimately reduce the burden of disease caused by tobacco. It may not be a silver bullet, but it may be one more nail in the coffin.

Olivia Maynard is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol. During her PhD she used cognitive neuroscience techniques to investigate the effectiveness of standardised packaging of cigarettes. Find her on Twitter @OliviaMaynard17.

Plain packs and EUTPD II tobacco legislation comes into force

Standardised packaging and EUTPD II tobacco legislation comes into force today, with tobacco manufacturers now only allowed to produce products that comply with the new regulations.

This includes no longer being able to manufacture cigarette packs containing less than twenty sticks, roll-your-own tobacco pouches under 30g or packaging featuring price marked packs.

Today also marks a year-long countdown to 20 May 2017 – beyond this date retailers must only sell standardised packs which comply with EUTPD II.

The High Court ruled yesterday that the tobacco industry had been unsuccessful in its legal challenge to the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations in the UK.

Duncan Cunningham, Imperial Tobacco UK and Ireland’s head of corporate and legal affairs, said: “Our focus remains on ensuring the success of our customers through the supply of compliant products. While the new regulations affect pack sizes and branding, today’s initial deadline principally affects tobacco manufacturers. Retailers will still be able to sell current formats until 20 May 2017 – an entire year from now.

“Tobacco pricing plays a critical role in the independent trade, and our experiences in Australia – which introduced standardised packaging in 2012 – suggest retailers who plan and prepare for change will be putting themselves in the strongest position to transition successfully.

“In the UK, we are working with the trade through our ‘Partnering for Success’ initiative to ensure the independent trade remains both compliant and competitive now the new regulations have come into force.”

Meanwhile, research from ECigIntelligence has found that nearly half of EU member states look likely to miss the deadline for putting the EU Tobacco Products Directive into local law.

It said as many as 12 countries may end up missing the deadline, including major European countries with significant e-cigarette markets such as France, Poland and Spain.

Tim Phillips, director of ECigIntelligence said: “This shows that regulating e-cigarettes across Europe will be a long road and Friday May 20th is only the beginning rather than the end.”

Plain cigarette packs become law in UK, France

The days of branded cigarette packets in Britain and France are over as new plain packaging laws came into effect today, hailed by campaigners despite resistance from tobacco firms.

The logos and distinctive colours on new cigarette packets will be replaced with neutral packaging, a move hailed by health campaigners as a major step in reducing demand for a “deadly and addictive product”.

The new packs will be introduced in both countries over the coming months following similar legislation in Australia credited with helping to cut down on smoking rates, especially among young people.

British retailers will have a year to sell existing stock and those in France have until January 1, at which point branded packets will become a thing of the past.

“For too long glitzy, cleverly designed packaging has lured young people into smoking,” British Lung Foundation chief executive Penny Woods said.

“Australia introduced plain packaging in 2012 and has already seen a decline in smoking rates.

“If just a fraction of the 200,000 children in the UK who start smoking a year are discouraged, thousands of lives will be saved.”

French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said: “Plain packaging is ugly and intentionally so. The aim is to destroy the attractiveness of many cigarette packs”.

The packs in Britain and France will all have to be a drab green colour and, as in the rest of the European Union, 65 percent of the pack will be taken up by health warnings.

Tobacco giants Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) failed in a last-ditch legal challenge against the British legislation on Thursday.

JTI has said it intends to appeal.

“The fact remains that our branding has been eradicated and we maintain that this is unlawful,” said Daniel Sciamma, JTI’s UK managing director.

Simon Clark, director of the British smokers’ group Forest, said the packaging rules “treat adults like children and teenagers like idiots”, adding that “no-one starts because of the packaging”.

There were also sceptical reactions on the streets of London.

With cigarette in hand, passerby Faheem Malik said: “When you’re addicted to smoking, you’ll ignore it. I already ignore the warning on the packs”.

“Kids look at the toy, not at the packaging,” he added.

10 key changes for tobacco products sold in the EU

1) Larger and mandatory pictorial health warnings

Graphic health warnings with photos, text and cessation information will cover 65% of the front and the back of cigarette and roll-your-own tobacco (RYO) packs(**).

Depicting the social and health impacts of smoking, the warnings are designed to discourage people from smoking or encourage them to quit. The warnings are grouped in three sets, to be rotated every year, to ensure that they retain their impact for as long as possible. The design of the warnings on cigarettes and RYO tobacco are laid out in a Commission Implementing Decision. See the mock-up of the new cigarette packs.

2) Ban on cigarettes and RYO with characterising flavours

Cigarettes and RYO tobacco products may no longer have characterising flavours such as menthol, vanilla or candy that mask the taste and smell of tobacco(***). In the case of products with more than a 3% market share (e.g. menthol), the ban will apply as of 2020.

A procedure for determining whether a tobacco product has a characterising flavour has been established, and an independent advisory panel will be set up to assist the Commission and Member States in this respect.

3) Replacement of TNCO labelling

The tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide (TNCO) labelling on cigarettes and RYO tobacco will now be replaced with an information message that informs consumers that ‘Tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer.’ Research has shown that TNCO labelling is misleading to consumers as it makes them believe that some products are less risky to their health. The new information message will more accurately reflect the true health consequences of smoking.

4) No more promotional or misleading packages

Cigarette packs must have a cuboid shape to ensure visibility of the combined health warnings. Slim packs and other irregular shaped packs will no longer be allowed.

Packs containing less than 20 cigarettes are also banned. Packs of 10, which are particularly appealing to young age groups with limited spending power, will therefore, disappear from the market(^).

Promotional and/or misleading features or elements are not allowed on tobacco packages. References to lifestyle benefits, taste or flavourings, special offers, suggestions that a particular product is less harmful than another, or has improved biodegradability or other environmental advantages, will no longer be possible.

5) Mandatory electronic reporting on ingredients

To gather more information on the ingredients contained in tobacco products and their effects on health and addiction, manufacturers and importers of tobacco products are required to report on ingredients in all products they place on the EU market through a standardised electronic format. Certain frequently used substances where there are initial indications to suggest that they contribute to the toxicity, addictiveness or result in characterising flavours in cigarettes and RYO tobacco will be subject to more detailed reporting requirements.

6) Safety and quality requirements for e-cigarettes

The Tobacco Products Directive does not ban e-cigarettes. See here to correct any other misconceptions about what will change. Instead, for the first time, certain safety and quality requirements have been introduced for e-cigarettes containing nicotine.

First and foremost, because nicotine is a toxic substance, the Directive sets maximum nicotine concentrations and maximum volumes for cartridges, tanks and nicotine liquid containers. E-cigarettes should be child-resistant and tamper proof and have a mechanism that ensures refilling without spillage to protect consumers. E-cigarette ingredients must be of high purity and e-cigarettes should deliver the same amount of nicotine for puffs of the same strength and duration.

7) Packaging and labelling rules for e-cigarettes

Health warnings for e-cigarettes become mandatory advising consumers that e-cigarettes contain nicotine and should not be used by non-smokers.

Packaging must also include a list of all ingredients contained in the product, information on the product’s nicotine content and a leaflet setting out instructions for use and information on adverse effects, risk groups and addictiveness and toxicity.

Promotional elements are not allowed on e-cigarette packaging and cross-border advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes is prohibited.

8) Monitoring and reporting of developments related to e-cigarettes

As e-cigarettes are a relatively new product for which evidence is only starting to emerge, the Directive lays down monitoring and reporting requirements for manufacturers and importers, Member States and the Commission:

E-cigarette manufacturers must notify Member States of all products they place on the market and report annually to them on sales volumes, consumer preferences and trends.

Member State authorities will monitor the market for any evidence that e-cigarettes lead to nicotine addiction or to tobacco consumption, especially in young people and non-smokers.

The Commission will also present to the European Parliament and the Council the developments on e-cigarettes in its implementation report to be produced after five years.

9) Possibility to ban cross-border distance sales

EU countries may prohibit cross-border distance sales of tobacco products, which give consumers –including the very young – access to products that do not comply with the Directive. Should an EU country choose this option, the retail outlets in question cannot supply their products to consumers located in that country. Even if a Member State does not ban such sales, retail outlets must register with the competent authorities, both in the country where they are located, and in the country where they plan to sell their products.

10) Measures to combat illicit trade

New measures intended to combat the illegal trade in tobacco products include an EU-wide tracking and tracing system for the legal supply chain and a security feature composed of visible and invisible elements (e.g. holograms) which should help law enforcement bodies, national authorities and consumers detect illicit products.

These measures will be introduced for cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco in 2019 and to tobacco products other than cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco in 2024.

This is what smoking cannabis does to your body and why the drug gives you the ‘munchies’

You may know that cannabis makes you high but this is exactly what the drug is doing to the different parts of your body

Cannabis is the most popular illegal drug in the UK but many people have no idea what it does to their bodies.

What exactly does the class B drug does to your brain, heart and internal organs?

When you smoke a spliff, its active chemical Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) travels through your body and effects your brain.

Marijuana lingers in the system longer than most other drugs and can still be detected in your urine, blood and hair for up to 90 days afterwards.

Marijuana messes with the way your brain processes information.

It contains at least 60 types of cannabinoids, chemical compounds that act on receptors throughout our brain.

These keep neurons firing, magnifying your thoughts, imagination and perception, and makes you feel high by boosting your dopamine levels.

But having too much makes you anxious, paranoid or panicky.

Like other drugs, continued use can lead to addiction.

Just minutes after you’ve taken your first puff, your heart rate speeds up by 20 to 50 beats per minute.

This can continue from 20 minutes to three hours later.


Cannabis makes blood vessels expand making your eyes turn red. It may also make your pupils dilate.

Weed also affects the parts of your brain that process what you see, leading to hallucinations.

People who smoke weed get the “munchies” and feel incredibly hungry. A study that looked into pot’s effect on mice found the drug basically flips a switch in the brain that is normally responsible for controlling appetite.

Long-term effects

Chronic cannabis users, who light up at least three times a day, tend to have smaller grey matter volumes in the orbitofrontal cortex – which unsurprisingly is the part of brain tied to addiction.

But interestingly marijuana use was also linked with greater connectivity in the brain.

There was evidence to suggest that the drug could help fight Alzheimer’s and dispelled the myth that smoking weed lowers IQ.

EU health chief compares tobacco deaths with terrorism

Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said that “Two terrorist attacks in Brussels are very dangerous, but of course 700.000 premature deaths are also very dangerous.”

Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis strongly criticised the tobacco industry on Thursday (19 May), saying it “only kills people”, while expressing his opposition to the renewal of an agreement to counter cigarette smuggling in the EU.

Speaking to a group of reporters on the eve of the entry into force of the new Tobacco Products Directive today (20 May), Andriukaitis wondered “Why we don’t see headlines, why we are so blind, so silent” in Europe concerning tobacco, the single largest cause of avoidable deaths in the EU.

The EU Health Commissioner then went on to draw unexpected parallels between deaths caused by the terrorist attacks in Brussels last march and those caused by tobacco.

“Two terrorist attacks in Brussels are very dangerous, but of course 700,000 premature deaths are also very dangerous,” he said referring to tobacco mortality figures which dwarf deaths caused by terrorism in Europe.

The former physician insisted that “Tobacco is a very profitable industry that only produces something that kills people, nothing more… such industrial activity is a mistake from different perspectives.”

Fight against smuggling

His comments came as the European Commission is about to decide whether to extend a controversial deal with Philip Morris and other big tobacco firms to fight against the smuggling of cigarettes in Europe.

Andriukaitis stated that “There is no legal need to continue with such an agreement.” The Commission is emphasising that the new directive will provide better tools to address such challenges.

According to the deal reached with Philip Morris, Japan Tobacco, British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco, the EU, and the member states, will drop all court cases against them, over the loss of tax revues caused by illegal trading in cigarettes. In return, Philip Morris, the world’s largest tobacco company, has to pay $1.25 billion over 12 years (2004-2016). The others will have to pay a total of $900 million.

Tobacco firms were sued for their alleged involvement in smuggling cigarettes in the EU.

The agreement with Philip Morris will be the first one to expire in July. The executive’s decision on its renewal will set the tone for the other three.

Decision by early June

Andriukaitis told reporters that Commissioners will make up their mind about continuing the agreement by the end of May, or the beginning of June.

He said that there was a very good cooperation ongoing with Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva, who is in charge of the dossier, as she oversees OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud agency.

Compared with Andriukaitis’ strong views, the Bulgarian Commissioner’s opinion is more “moderate” and “cautious”, EU officials told

In a debate held in the European Parliament in February 2016, Georgieva left all options open for a renewal of the agreement.

“The question is whether or not, between today and the time when we have the Tobacco Products Directive in place – 2019, or the time when we have the [World Health Organisation’s] Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products protocol enacted – 2022, we still need a legally binding instrument to fight illegal trade,” she told MEPs.

However, Georgieva faces strong arguments against maintaining close ties with big tobacco.

“Too close”

A European Commission assessment of the agreements noted that these deals bring “anti-fraud policy, if not EU policy at large, too close to comfort to the tobacco manufacturers”.

The report also highlighted that these companies are legally challenging the new Tobacco Products Directive. This “prompts some to question whether it is opportune for the EU to enter into a contract with an entity on policy issues related to the ones legally challenged.”

Georgieva is aware of the risk of the negative impact for the EU’s image that the continuation of such agreements could cause.

Moreover, the Commissioner does not want to antagonise MEPs by neglecting the negative opinion they gave on the deals, just when she is about to start negotiating the EU budget with co-legislators.

In a resolution voted on last March, a majority of lawmakers urged the Commission not to renew the deal, as they proved ineffective to stop the increase of smuggled non-branded “cheap white” cigarettes.

The executive and the European Parliament agreed that the WHO’s protocol could be a much more powerful instrument, as it will introduce at international level better tools to trace and track cigarettes.

The protocol will enter into force once it is ratified by 40 countries. Only 16 countries have done it to date, including only five member states (Austria, France, Latvia, Portugal and Spain).

Meanwhile, a majority of member states are in favour of prolonging the anti-smuggling agreements with the tobacco sector. EU officials said that around 20 member states responded affirmatively when the European Commission sent letters to the capitals last year to request their views.

Focus on implementation

In the meantime, the European Parliament called on the executive to focus on the implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive, which also includes similar tools at EU level.

Adopted in 2014, the directive will enter into force today. Andriukaitis was positive, as up to 19 national governments are preparing stronger measures.

But only Germany, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia completely transposed the directive on the eve of the entry into force, while it was partly adopted by Belgium, Estonia, Lithuania and the United Kingdom.

Britain, France, Ireland, Hungary and Slovenia either adopted or planned to include plain packaging, where brands and logos are removed.

The Lithuanian Commissioner warned laggard that he will be “very active” in ensuring that all member states bring their national legislation in line with the new EU rules.

Otherwise, he is ready to launch infringements procedures without delay.

The Commission, along with the member states, will assess the implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive during the next group of experts on tobacco policy, to be held on 15 June.


Ben Townsend, JTI’s EU Affairs Vice-President, noted that the new EU Tobacco Products Directive “is an attack on adult consumers’ freedom of choice and yet another example of extreme regulation.” Moreover, the EU move to further restrict packaging design and formats is so confusing and complex that regulators in EU member states are scrambling to draft national laws. JTI is a member of Japan Tobacco Group.


EU member states and the European Commission entered into agreements with tobacco producers Philip Morris International (PMI) in 2004, Japan Tobacco in 2007, British American Tobacco (BAT) in 2010 and Imperial Tobacco in 2010 in which they agreed to pay a collective total of $2.15 billion to the EU, and member states.

Around 90% of the revenue from these deals goes to member states, and 10% to the EU budget, as own resources.

The tobacco firms pledged to prevent their products from falling into the hands of criminals, by supplying only quantities required by the legitimate market, taking care to sell only to legitimate clients and implementing a tracking system to help law enforcement authorities if cigarettes are traded illegally.

Meanwhile, the new Tobacco Directive updates the 2001Tobacco Products Directive, by bring it in line with market, scientific and international developments in the tobacco sector.

According to the new rules, the new cigarette packs will feature mandatory picture and text health warnings covering 65% of the front and the back of cigarette packs – to be placed on the top edge. 50% of the sides of packs will also be covered with health warnings (e.g. “smoking kills – quit now”; “tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer”), replacing the current printing of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide (TNCO) levels.

On top of this, flavourings in cigarettes and tobacco must not be used in quantities that give the product a distinguishable (‘characterising’) flavour other than tobacco.

Accordingly, Menthol is considered a characterising flavour and will be banned after a phase-out period of four years – a period which applies to all products with more than a 3% market share in the EU.