"A significant majority of (citizen) respondents were against extending the scope of the Directive (ie further regulations).
A vast majority of (citizen) respondents ... were in favour of lifting the ban on snus.
A significant majority of (citizen) respondents disagreed with the regulation of ingredients at the EU level.
A significant majority of (citizen) respondents opposed limiting access to tobacco products."
The 125 page draft document strongly suggests that the European Commission has decided not to listen to the citizens and has instead decided to heed their sock-puppet pressure groups and the gentlemen of the pharmaceutical industry. This may not surprise you. According to European news sources, the directive could be much worse than anybody feared. Lowlights include: -
- Total ban on all forms of smokeless tobacco across the EU (except Sweden)
- Total ban on e-cigarettes
- Ban on menthol and other flavourings (previously rumoured, as I reported in April)
- Standardised cigarette width, length and colour
- Ban on shopkeepers displaying more than one variety of each brand
- Graphic warnings on packs covering 75 per cent of the surface
The ban on smokeless will affect nasal snuff and all forms of chewing tobacco. This will be particularly unpopular with the various ethnic minorities who use Asian-style products. It will also mean a ban on loose snus in Denmark, where it has hitherto been covered by the 'traditional use' clause (see here for coverage of the Danish issue.)
Of course, this means no repeal of the snus ban and therefore no chance for EU citizens to benefit from the 'Swedish experience' of mass switching to a 99% safer alternative. As The Local reminds us...
In Sweden currently only 11 percent of the adult population are smokers compared to the EU average which is 28 percent.
Any government that was serious about health would legalise snus immediately. Alternatively, any government that believed that smokeless tobacco was such a serious threat that it needed banning would remove the Swedish exemption. This transparently isn't about health. It is about money and politics.
The pharmaceutical industry—and, indeed, the tobacco industry—will be even happier to hear that e-cigarettes are in the firing line. The draft directive recommends that only 'NCPs' (nicotine-containing products) which have been authorised as medicinal products should be allowed on the market. Since e-cigarettes make no claim to be medicinal products, this would see them banned. Hundreds of thousands of EU citizens who have successfully quit smoking with these devices would be pushed back to cigarettes. Great work.
Many of the other policy recommendations are petty and trivial, seemingly designed to do nothing more than annoy the tobacco industry. Preventing shopkeepers from stocking more than one variety of each cigarette brand is a new one to me. I can't imagine who dreamt up that policy or what they were smoking at the time. Likewise, the ban on menthol and other flavourings has no scientific justification (see the tedious campaign by the FDA to do likewise) and is only on the agenda because the prohibitionists are itching to ban something and it's easier to ban minority products like menthol cigarettes and smokeless tobacco than cigarettes themselves.
The policy of covering tobacco products with 75 per cent graphic warnings is cut from the same bone-headed cloth. Presumably this is for the benefit of all those people who haven't heard the news about smoking being bad for them. It falls short of plain packaging, but only just, as Die Welt reports:
If one adds the revenue stamp as another element whose size is specified, the manufacturers will be left with approximately ten percent of a pack surface where they can exercise their freedom of design.
Furthermore, the legislation can easily be updated in the future when the unelected European Commission is ready to take the 'next logical step':
The Commission is seeing the restrictions as part of a preliminary stage: five years from the effective date of the directive that is now being planned, it wants to submit additional proposals “in the direction of full plain packaging”, i.e. a ban on the use of any logos, pictures, letterings, and font types.
That's the news as I understand it so far (mainly gathered from foreign sources as the British media haven't shown any interest). Looks like health and liberty will be sacrificed for special interests once again, but that's the European Commission for you—incompetent and rotten to the core.