MEPs scale back tobacco legislation proposals
Ban on menthol cigarettes will not start until 2022
MEPs have voted to ban menthol cigarettes from the start of 2022. Photograph: Getty
MEPs have given the green light to the EU’s controversial tobacco directive but have watered down a number of the original proposals.
While MEPs voted to ban menthol cigarettes the introduction of the full ban will not start until 2022.
Similarly, they voted to restrict mandatory health warnings to 65 per cent of cigarette packaging, compared to the threshold of 75 per cent in the original European Commision proposal. Health ministers had also agreed on a 65 per cent threshold in June.
The European Parliament also rejected a proposal by the European Commission that electronic cigarettes should be classified as medicinal products, though new limits will be placed on how the products are advertised.
Regulation of the electronic products, which contain no tobacco but do contain nicotine, has been one of the most controversial aspects of the proposed legislation.
However, EU health commissioner Tonio Borg welcomed the fact that the European Parliament voted to proceed with the negotiations, noting that discussions could now commence between the two sides on a compromise proposal.
“This will allow us to take the process of negotiations forward and to engage with Council in order to come to a meaningful agreement on the file,” the Commissioner said, adding that he was confident negotiations could be concluded before the end of the current Parliament’s mandate next year.
Representatives of the European Parliament will now negotiate with representatives of member states through the so-called EU ‘trilogue’ process over the coming months in a bid to finalise an agreement before May.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny had written to all Irish MEPs and members of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament urging them not to vote in favour of an amendment which would reduce the size of health warnings on cigarette packaging to 50 per cent.
The parliament’s vote on the directive was postponed last month amid widespread allegations of intense lobbying by tobacco companies and resistance from some tobacco-producing member states.
In the letter sent yesterday to MEPs and co-signed by Minister for Health James Reilly, Mr Kenny said he was concerned at a proposal to reduce the size of the health warning on cigarette packaging to 50 per cent.
Mr Kenny said an amendment to reduce the size of the health warning could jeopardise the conclusion of the negotiations before next year’s European Parliament elections.