Europe’s Parliament today voted to toughen up the European Union’s regulations on tobacco products, but pulled back from plans to regulate electronic cigarettes as medical products, setting themselves on a collision course with the European Council.
Parliament was voting on a new ‘tobacco products directive’ which will regulate cigarettes in all European Union countries. The draft passed by parliament will see fruit and menthol flavoured cigarettes phased out and increase the size of health warnings on packets from 30% of the front and 40% of the back to 65% on both.
The proposals would also see electronic cigarettes regulated as medical products only when they make health claims, and if they do not, they would generally be regarded as tobacco products. In contrast, the European Commission and Council, made up of the leaders of the union’s 28 member states, want these products to be controlled under medical regulations.
“The proposition to regulate them as tobacco products won with a majority. That’s probably the biggest difference with Council now,” said Linda McAvan, parliament’s rapporteur for the legislation, in a press conference.
She insisted that the European Parliament was still committed to regulating e-cigarettes, the control of which is currently a grey area (see: Regulation stacks up for e-cigarettes). McAvan hopes to have agreement with the Council by Christmas.