New tougher EU regulations on e-cigarettes backed

Wednesday 26 February 2014 20.06
Draft legislation aimed at making tobacco products less attractive to young people and regulating e-cigarettes has been endorsed
Draft legislation aimed at making tobacco products less attractive to young people and regulating e-cigarettes has been endorsed

Draft legislation aimed at making tobacco products less attractive to young people and regulating e-cigarettes has been endorsed by MEPs.

The updated EU Tobacco Directive requires all cigarette packs to carry picture warnings covering 65% of their surface. 

The legislation, which has been agreed on by EU health ministers, mean e-cigarettes would be regulated, either as medicinal products if they claim to help smokers to quit, or as tobacco products.

The draft legislation was approved by 514 votes to 66, with 58 abstentions.

"This is the culmination of years of work against the background of intense lobbying from the tobacco industry and its front groups," said rapporteur British MEP Linda McAvan. 

"The new measures are a big step forward for tobacco control, and will help to prevent the next generation of smokers from being recruited.

"We know that it is children - not adults - who start to smoke: the overwhelming majority of smokers start before their 18th birthday."

As proposed by MEPs, e-cigarettes would be regulated, either as medicinal products, if they are marketed as a quitting aid, or alternatively as tobacco products.

In the latter case, their nicotine concentration should not exceed 20 mg/ml.

Refillable e-cigarettes would be allowed. Electronic cigarettes should be childproof and should carry health warnings. They would be subject to the same advertising restrictions as tobacco products.

Current legislation requires that health warnings cover at least 30% of the area of the front of the pack and 40% of the back.

The proposed text would increase this to 65%, front and back, and would require these warnings to be in picture form - something that does not happen in the majority of member states at the moment.