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Press Release] The revised Tobacco Directive – the beginning of the end of tobacco industry led policy-making?

19 December, BrusselsEPHA welcomes today’s release of the revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) by Health Commissioner Borg. With stronger measures on e-cigarettes, tobacco flavouring and the shape of cigarettes and packs, this proposal is good news for the further protection of people’s health across Europe.

Among other proposals, the Directive recommends pictorial health warnings that cover 75% of cigarette packs. Whilst it is to be applauded as a great move to champion people’s health above corporative interests, it fails to propose mandatory plain packaging. As a host of preliminary studies made in Australia and other countries show (1), a mandatory scheme in plain packaging would go to great lengths to prevent young smokers from lighting up their smoking habit in the first place. Plain packaging is in everyone’s interest.

“Today Mr Borg kept his word that the release of the revised TPD would be one of his priorities when taking up the Health and Consumer portfolio. This long-delayed revision is a leap towards better health protection of hundreds of millions of people in Europe. I hope this is a watershed moment for the relationship between the Commission and the tobacco industry, and indicates a move towards greater transparency,“ said Monika Kosińska, Secretary General of the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA).

The previous Directive, adopted back in 2001, has been overdue in its need for revision to take into account new evidence demonstrating the need to foster better public health in the lethal business (2) of tobacco consumption. The tobacco industry, with its enormous lobby and wealth of false claims (3), will keep on putting a huge pressure on the EU institutions and Member States in a desperate attempt to shield its profits.

“Today’s release is only the beginning. Now that the revised Tobacco Directive has entered into the co-decision (4) process, the ball is in the European Parliament and the European Council’s court. The current parliamentary term comes to an end in June 2014. If these institutions do not make sure that a people-centred Directive is approved by then, the new Parliament and next College of Commissioners will find themselves back at square one. We are hopeful there is enough political will to complete the process next year and to go even further than this proposal, and join Australia and other countries in introducing mandatory plain packaging across the EU,” according to Ms Kosińska.

► Notes to the editors

(1) On December 1ts, cigarette plain packaging laws came into force in Australia. For a comprehensive evaluation of the various studies on the positive impact of Tobacco Plain Packaging in Australian and other Asian markets, visit Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011, Trade Marks Amendment (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Bill 2011, Australia’s House of Representatives.

(2) Tobacco smoking is the major cause of preventable death and disease in developed societies. Over 650.000 Europeans are killed every year because of smoking related diseases, and 13 million more are suffering as a result of their smoking.

(3) Over the last few years, the tobacco industry has been making false claims made about the TPD like “smuggling will rise with plain packaging”; “it will be more difficult for retailers to differentiate products”; “this is against property law”; or that “there is no evidence that flavours make tobacco products more attractive”.

(4) Co-decision requires consensus to be reached between the Council and the Parliament for legislation to be adopted.

Contact information

Javier Delgado Rivera, EPHA Communications Coordinator, Tel.: +32 2 233 38 76 and

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