New EU rules ban 10-cigarette packs, increase size of health warnings

Ireland had already introduced similar measure against packets of 10 in 2007

Irregular-shaped tobacco-product packs that can potentially obscure the visibility of health warnings have been banned in the EU. Photograph: Reuters

Irregular-shaped tobacco-product packs that can potentially obscure the visibility of health warnings have been banned in the EU. Photograph: Reuters

 

Packs of 10 cigarettes are being withdrawn from sale and the size of graphic health warnings on tobacco products is increasing as part of EU rules coming into force from today.

A new directive by the European Commission (EC) means member states must comply with regulations that ban the sale of smaller or promotional packs, which are perceived as being more attractive to younger smokers due to the reduced cost. The minimum carton size will now be 20.

Ireland had already introduced a similar measure in 2007.

Graphic photos and text outlining the adverse consequences of smoking must now cover 65 per cent of the front and back of cigarette and roll your own tobacco packs.

Irregular-shaped packs that can potentially obscure the visibility of health warnings have been banned.

Ireland is one of 11 countries - including the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy - that have already transposed the directive into national law; from tomorrow, countries that have not done so face infringement proceedings from the EU.

Vendors must also cease trading tobacco products with “characterising flavours” such as vanilla or candy, but flavoured products that have an overall market share of greater than 3 per cent will remain available until 2020.

The EC has said it will establish a procedure for determining what constitutes flavoured tobacco products and will impose bans accordingly.

The tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide labelling currently on packs will be replaced with an information message saying: “Tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer.”

The directive also includes changes to the regulation of e-cigarettes, which must now abide by maximum nicotine concentrations and maximum cartridge volumes.

Health warnings will become mandatory for e-cigarettes, informing consumers that they contain nicotine and should not be used by non-smokers. E-cigarette packaging will include a list of all ingredients contained in the product and nicotine concentration.

Furthermore, the EC has outlined new measures to combat the illicit trade of cigarettes across Europe, and an EU-wide tracking and tracing system will now be established.

Legitimate tobacco products will contain added security features, including holograms to aid the detection of illegal or counterfeit supplies.

The more stringent regulations aim to reduce the estimated 700,000 premature deaths across member states each year caused by smoking.

Ireland became the first country in the EU to introduce legislation for plain cigarette packaging in 2015, but the policy has not yet been implemented due to protracted legal wrangling.