Tuesday 8 October 2013

Tobacco Products Directive: the jury is in

It's D-Day for the EU's Tobacco Products Directive. Here are the main proposals that have emerged from two years of work from some of the finest minds in tobacco control, along with the logic behind them and the results of the EU parliament vote.

Banning flavourings

Kids hate the taste of tobacco but they love fruit. That's why you'll always find children in specialist tobacconists filling their briar pipes with fancy oriental tobacco. Everybody knows that kids start smoking cigarettes that taste of cherry, strawberry and licorice. That's why flavoured cigarettes make up a whopping 0.000001% of the market.

But there's one flavour kids love more than any other. Whether it's in cough pastilles or ointment for sports injuries, kids just can't enough of that mentholated taste. Gangs of teenagers know there's nothing more grown up and manly than having a white, menthol cigarette hanging out of their lips. No wonder the EU has decided to arbitrarily ban this particular segment of the cigarette market.

Vote in Parliament: Flavourings banned approved but the menthol ban won't come in until 2022.

Bigger graphic warnings

Graphic warnings have officially had a "negligible" effect on smoking behaviour and "have not had a discernible impact on smoking prevalence". Making them twice as large could make the effect twice as negligible. As always, the graphic images will focus only on the least plausible smoking-related diseases such as gangrene, blindness and that man from Uzbekistan who managed to get throat cancer on the outside of his throat. These images are bound to strike a chord with smokers. Who amongst us doesn't know someone who was struck blind after smoking too many cigarettes? Future graphic warnings will concentrate on images of syphilis, bearded babies and 9/11.

Vote in Parliament: Graphic warnings will take up 65% of the pack, not 75% as originally planned.

Banning packs of 10 and small pouches of rolling tobacco

No one likes to run out of tobacco and thanks to the EU you'll be less likely to in the future. Trying to cut down by buying a pack of ten? Don't bother. Buy a pack of twenty to make sure you've always got cigarettes in the house.

Vote in Parliament: Approved. (UPDATE: Or was it? It's reported here that the ban on packs of ten was only 'recommended' and Taking Liberties says that 20g pouches will still be available.)

Banning 'slims'

Women are more likely to smoke slim cigarettes and, as everyone knows, women aren't allowed to smoke therefore slim cigarettes should be banned. If women still insist on smoking, they should be made to inhale great big lungfuls of tobacco like blokes do. Fatter cigarettes, more tobacco—it's a great health policy.

Vote in Parliament: Rejected.

Regulating e-cigarettes as medicines

They're not tobacco products and they're not medicines, so let's regulate them as medicines in a Tobacco Products Directive! This will increase costs, reduce competition and limit the appeal of a much safer nicotine product. Great news for the EU-subsidised tobacco farmers.

Vote in Parliament: Rejected!


westcoast2 said...

They're not tobacco products and they're not medicines.....

As far as I can tell the EU parliament decided e-cigs are medicines if they contain over 30mg nicotine (require a MA) and they are Tobacco products as they will be subject to EU advertising restrictions applicable to tobacco.

So they are and they are not, hope that is clear.

Jonathan Bagley said...

The 30mg limit has no health logic behind it and will result in a black market for nicotine liquid. There is already a UK H&S limit of 75mg. A 30mg limit will suit the large ciga-like companies with their pre filled cartridges as it will make the price difference between home mixing and their products smaller.

Ben said...

"Flavourings banned". Too bad, I will have to add mashed strawberries myself then.

Jonathan Bagley said...

Yes, in the baking section at Morrisons. Cup cake flavouring. Safe if inhaled.

Fredrik Eich said...

Not quite sure why they think it is ok for me to smoke menthol now but not in 2022.

Fredrik Eich said...

And seeing as menthol smokers have almost half the risk of getting lung cancer, presumably they just want to kill me by doubleing my risk. Thanks for nothing EU.