EU’s ‘shame’ as it caves in to lobbying by tobacco giants over the sale and advertising of cigarettes

MEPs also rejected calls for e-cigarettes to be subject to the same regulation as nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and gum

Whitehall Editor

The European Parliament has bowed to intense tobacco industry lobbying and scaled back its proposals to restrict the sale and promotion of cigarettes across Europe.

MEPs rejected plans to ban so-called “slim” cigarettes that are particularly attractive to young smokers and opted to phase out menthol cigarettes over eight years rather than three.

They also backed away from proposals to increase the size of health warnings on cigarette packs to cover 75 per cent of the box – agreeing instead to the 65 per cent figure suggested by the industry. The current requirement for health warnings is for 30 per cent minimum coverage on one side and 40 per cent on the other.

The moves will be seen as a victory for the tobacco industry, which has spent more than €1m lobbying MEPs to reject the more stringent safety proposals agreed by European governments. The differences must now be resolved before May 2014, when there are new MEP elections.

“This is a shameful day for the European Parliament, as a centre-right majority has done the bidding of the tobacco industry and voted for weaker rules, which are totally at odds with citizens’ interests and public health,” said Carl Schlyter, who co-chairs the public health committee. “The parliament’s public health committee voted for robust legislation, with a view to tackling the 700,000 Europeans who die from smoking every year, but the core proposals have been scaled back. The only real victors from today’s vote are big tobacco firms, whose aggressive and expensive lobbying campaigns have paid off.”

But the EU Health Commissioner, Tonio Borg, called the vote “positive”. “I am confident the revised Directive on Tobacco Products can still be adopted within the mandate of the current Parliament,” he said.

Last week, The Independent revealed the scale of the tobacco industry lobbying operation. Philip Morris International, the maker of Marlboro, spent €1.2m wooing MEPs to water down safety proposals. A company spreadsheet showed it used 161 staff and consultants. By 22 June last year, 233 MEPs – 31 per cent of the total – had been met by PMI at least once.

MEPs rejected calls for e-cigarettes to be subject to the same regulation as nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and gum. The lack of tobacco in e-cigarettes means they are “almost certainly” a much safer way of getting a nicotine hit than smoking cigarettes, according to Cancer Research.

Chris Davies, a Liberal Democrat MEP, said: “E-cigs can be a game changer. Hundreds of former smokers have written to tell me that they have helped them give up cigarettes when nothing else worked. They are successful because they are not medicines but products that smokers enjoy using as an alternative to cigarettes.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Green Recruitment Company: Operations Manager - Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Operation...

Recruitment Genius: Implementation Consultant

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global leading software co...

Recruitment Genius: Implementation Consultant

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global leading software co...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Coordinator

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global leading software co...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent