EU to ban menthol cigarettes and snus

Cigarettes with menthol flavor

All cigarette packs in the EU from 2015 onward will be covered with pictures of diseased body parts. Vanilla, slim and menthol cigarettes will be prohibited, while snus will not be marketed outside Sweden, under European Commission suggestions out on 19 December.

The bill becomes operational after a scandal when the health commissioner, Malta’s John Dalli, lose his job due to the fact he presumably solicited a bribe to take the snus ban.

It is also a significant loss for the tobacco industry – the European commission considers there will be 10 million fewer people who smoke five years after it becomes effective.

The menthol ban alone will eliminate 20% of the market in some European Union countries.

Dalli’s successor, Tonio Borg, mentioned that the law is created for avoiding teenagers from taking up smoking.

Wednesday’s bill establishes the stage for fresh lobbying and politicking in the European Parliament and in EU countries’ embassies in Brussels, which can still change the law.

The centre-right EPP group in parliament without delay welcomed Borg’s “balanced” text. But the centre-left S&D faction said it should make cigarettes to be marketed in plain packaging with a line of brand indicating text, as in Australia.

For its part, tobacco company Philip Morris, which gained nearly €7 billion in 2011, said the directive’s “numerous flaws need to be addressed.”

British American Tobacco said the bill is “not proportionate” and stated that the company will try “to make our voice heard over the course of the next year” in the EU institutions.

Borg mentioned that he met with Swedish ministers because they forced him to lift the snus ban.

Focusing on snus, users place pellets of the stuff against their gums, where tiny crystals on the surface of the product lacerate the skin to get nicotine into their bloodstream.

It is also preferred by youngsters since they can use it, for instance, during class in school and a teacher won’t be able to notice.

“There is proof to display that if you were to add snus to the European market, it would be a great achievement,” Borg said.

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