Brussels, 26 February 2014 — Today, the European Parliament endorsed an agreement for a new EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) reached with the Council last December (1). “This vote comes not a moment too soon given the challenges in reaching the adoption of the Tobacco Products Directive. The European Public Health Alliance hopes this will encourage Member States to strengthen their tobacco control measures, following examples from progressive global leaders in tobacco control,” said EPHA Secretary General, Monika Kosińska.
Today’s endorsement of the new TPD strengthens the current European regulation on tobacco in several ways. Among other measures, it increases the size of the pictorial and text health warnings to cover 65% of tobacco packages and bans flavoured cigarettes and features on packaging that play down the health risks of smoking. There is evidence to show that these measures encourage smokers to give up and discourage non-smokers from starting (2).
Tobacco packaging is carefully designed by the tobacco industry to lure a particular range of consumers - for example, slim cigarettes target women (3) and coloured packaging is appealing to children. The new TPD will make tobacco packages less attractive to these demographic groups.
Europe’s youth has the highest smoking rates in the world (4), with higher rates among lower socio-economic groups. Today’s move by the EP empowers young people living in Europe with higher levels of health protection in a piece of legislation more fitted to the twenty-first century. This directive will also ensure the product safety and quality of nicotine containing products (NCPs) - including electronic cigarettes (5). It attempts to ensure that they remain accessible to smokers while ensuring that they are unappealing and inaccessible to minors.
Close to 13 million people suffer from smoking-related diseases in the EU. This has devastating effects not only on societies and healthcare systems, but also economically. The estimated annual cost of tobacco to the European economy is more than half a trillion euros, or about 4.6% of the European Union’s GDP (6).
EU Member States will also retain the possibility to adopt more stringent measures to regulate tobacco products, such as standardised packaging. Today’s TPD adoption at the European Parliament should encourage more EU Member States to step up public health measures to make smoking, the cause of hundreds of thousands of deaths a year in Europe, less attractive to people.
The Council will now have to endorse the TPD for it to become a directive. EPHA calls on the Council to do so without delay as this directive has already been three years in the making.
Notes to editors
(1) Tobacco products proposal: Setting the record straight on 10 common myths, European Commission memo, 30 May
(2) See the example of Uruguay: Tobacco control campaign in Uruguay: a population-based trend analysis.
(3) Women and smoking in the EU. Gender and Chronic Disease Policy Briefings (World No Tobacco Day 2013) - European Institute of Women’s Health’s (EIWH)
(6) A study on liability and the health costs of smoking, DG SANCO (2008/C6/046).
Javier Delgado Rivera, EPHA Communications Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or +32 (0) 2 233 38 76.
Download EPHA statement (PDF file):