The sale of cigarettes in packets of 10 is expected to be banned by 2016 after MEPs voted for tighter restrictions on tobacco use across Europe.

Electronic cigarette substitutes, which are increasingly popular as a less harmful alternative to smoking, will be subjected to the same strict limitations on advertising as ordinary tobacco products under the plan aimed at reducing smoking among women and young people.

Linda McAvan, the Labour MEP who drafted the legislation, said the new rules would protect “children from being targeted by tobacco companies” via the lure of attractive branding, small female friendly packs and flavoured cigarettes.

“Four thousand British children start smoking each week that s a staggering 200,000 new childhood smokers a year,” she said.

The new rules must be agreed by ministers and voted on again by the European Parliament before they become law throughout the European Union, but with most governments in favour this is not expected to pose an obstacle.

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The ban on packets of 10, supported by the Government, would hit two million British smokers because the small packs targeted by the EU because they are thought to be favoured by the young account for 38 per cent of cigarettes sold in the UK.

It came under immediate fire from the smokers group Forest, whose campaigns manager, Angela Harbutt, said that buying smaller packets was “an economic necessity” for some. “It is a mean spirited measure that punishes those on low incomes,” she said.

Apart from Britain Italy is the only other EU country that does not already require cigarettes to be sold in packets of 19 or 20.

The ban will also have an impact on British smokers of hand rolling tobacco. Many British roll up smokers buy their leaf tobacco in 12.5 gram packets which will be banned by the EU, with a new minimum sales weight of 20g.

MEPs also voted to ban menthol cigarettes by 2022, a decision that delayed by five years a European Commission proposal that would have prohibited mint, fruit or sweet flavoured tobacco by the end of 2016.

The menthol ban will eventually wipe out annual British cigarette sales worth up to f650 million, imposing losses of over f6 billion a year on the tobacco industry, which has warned that the measure will lead to increased smuggling.

Drago Azinovic, the EU region head of Philip Morris International, warned “MEPs have voted to ban an entire segment of the legal market, despite the inevitable increase in illegal trade that this will fuel.”

Under the new EU rules, graphic health warnings, including colour photographs of tumours, must cover 65 per cent of tobacco packaging relegating the names of famous brands such as Benson and Hedges, Marlboro or Gauloises to the bottom edge of cigarette packets.

As well as taking a significant towards plain packaging, the use of words such as “light”, “mild” and “low tar” to describe cigarettes and other tobacco products will be prohibited completely.

In a setback for public health campaigners, the commission, most national governments, including Britain and the pharmaceutical industry, most MEPs rejected a ban on longer, narrower “slim” cigarettes, or for the sale of electronic cigarettes to be restricted by classing them as medicines.

“It is bitterly disappointing that MEPs chose to protect the interests of the tobacco lobby today, rather than protect the health of our young people,” said Keith Taylor, a Green MEP.

As cigarette smoking has been increasingly stigmatised and prohibited, the sale of e cigarettes has risen dramatically from f2.5 million in 2011 to f23.9m last year.

E cigarettes consist of a battery, a cartridge containing nicotine, a solution of propylene glycol or glycerine mixed with water, and an atomiser to turn the solution into a vapour.

Their growing popularity led the commission to propose classing them as a medicine alongside nicotine patches and other “smoking cessation” products.

Current plans by Britain s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to class e cigarettes as medicinal products could now be overturned by the EU decision.

A Department of Health spokesman said “We are disappointed with the decision to reject the proposal to regulate nicotine containing products, including e cigarettes, as medicines,” said a department of health spokesman.

“We believe these products need to be regulated as medicines and will continue to make this point during further negotiations.”

European lawmakers reject tight restrictions on e-cigarettes –

Cigarettes online Blog Archive Menthol cigarettes could be banned across the eu (but not until 2017)

European lawmakers endorsed a permissive approach to the sale and use of e cigarettes, although the products could not be sold legally to anyone younger than 18.

The Food and Drug Administration in the United States has said it wants to issue regulations on the nicotine delivery devices soon. Industry leaders and public health officials had expected them by the end of October but the regulations may be delayed because of the partial government shutdown that has emptied F.D.A. offices.

The electronic cigarette measure in Europe was widely watched because the use of e cigarettes, primarily by smokers seeking a way to kick the tobacco habit, has skyrocketed in Europe and the United States. Instead of smoke from burning tobacco, users ingest the nicotine in the form of vapors from a heated fluid an alternative to smoking commonly called vaping.

The advent of vaping has removed some of the stigma of tobacco use, and in some cases people can use e cigarettes in places where smoking tobacco is prohibited. The European Union legislation, however, does not address the issue of where vaping is permitted, leaving that to national and local jurisdictions.

Some Wall Street analysts predict that sales of the battery powered devices could surpass those of cigarettes within a decade. But the products and their use have quickly outrun any regulations on either side of the Atlantic. Some people hope this new technology will become a widely used alternative to tobacco. While their health effects are not fully understood, e cigarettes are generally considered less harmful than smoking.

E cigarette companies, supported by growing legions of e cigarette users, had lobbied hard against medicinal regulation. They welcomed the European Parliament vote as a victory for good health and good sense.

This is a fantastic result for public health and the millions of smokers around Europe who are switching to e cigarettes, said Charles Hamshaw Thomas, corporate affairs director of Britain s biggest e cigarette brand by sales volume, E Lites. Common sense has prevailed.

But while exempting e cigarettes from an onerous and potentially costly certification process required for drugs, an amendment to the Tobacco Products Directive approved by parliamentarians imposes tight restrictions on advertising and sponsorship. In these areas, e cigarettes face the same restraints as regular cigarettes, including the ban on sales to young people.

As expected, the European Parliament also voted to approve measures adopted this year by European Union officials, banning conventional cigarettes with menthol flavoring and requiring cigarette packs to carry health warnings in pictures and text covering 65 percent of the packages, up from 40 percent. But Parliament voted to delay the menthol ban by five years. It will take effect in eight years instead of three.

Regulators in the United States must now grapple with two serious concerns public health officials have raised about e cigarettes. Scientists are not certain of the health impact of using e cigarettes or of inhaling secondhand vapor. Perhaps more pressing, it is not clear whether e cigarettes will revive an interest in smoking by celebrating a behavior that health officials have spent decades trying to demonize.

These products threaten to undo all that, said Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, who wants the F.D.A. to issue tough guidelines for how e cigarettes can be marketed and sold. With such regulations, e cigarettes have potentially positive value, he said, but we ve already seen that, if left to their own, e cigarette manufacturers will reach out to our children, do everything to maximize sales, including re glamorizing smoking, and that s where we are today.

The market for electronic cigarettes and related paraphernalia, which barely existed a few years ago, is now estimated to be worth more than $650 million a year in Europe, although no precise figures are available. E cigarette sales in the United States have also exploded to create what Wall Street analysts predict will be a $1.7 billion market this year.

Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, proposes that the F.D.A. move at a deliberate pace and then, if the benefits of e cigarettes prove to outweigh the concerns, liberalize the rules.

We can t allow e cigarettes to establish themselves the way cigarettes have and then, five years from now when we ve answered all the open scientific questions, we have to try to stuff the genie back in the bottle, he said.

For now, he said it was crucial to maintain advertising restrictions and establish a ban on indoor use until it is clear that secondhand vapor is not dangerous and to maintain smoke free environments that encourage cigarette cessation.

In late September, 40 state attorneys general signed a letter urging the F.D.A. to assume immediate regulatory oversight of e cigarettes, an increasingly widespread, addictive product. The letter said that the states, after years of fighting to protect their citizens from the dangers of tobacco products, want to see advertising restrictions and efforts to curb marketing and sale of e cigarettes to young people.

The letter also referred to the findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which last month published an emergency note from the field, a form of advisory usually reserved for disease outbreaks. The C.D.C. note reported a doubling to 10 percent of experimentation with e cigarettes by high school students from 2011 to 2012. It estimated that 1.78 million middle and high school students had tried e cigarettes during 2012.

While other scientists share concerns about the lack of clear data, they are more hopeful that e cigarettes will eventually reduce smoking rates. Their relative optimism stems from the fact that e cigarettes help simulate the experience of smoking, which theoretically would make it easier to quit.

In a statement provided by e mail, the chief executive of Lorillard, the tobacco company that recently bought blu eCigs, the largest e cigarette company in the United States, sees less harm and more benefits. Murray S. Kessler said, E cigarettes might be the most significant harm reduction option ever made available to smokers. As a result, regulation should, while limiting access to children, not limit development of the product or access by adults, he said.

Craig Weiss, the chief executive of NJOY, the second largest e cigarette company, said he favored regulation that would require companies to disclose ingredients, adhere to manufacturing standards and require age verification for purchase.

But he opposed limits on television advertising, which he said could limit awareness. And he objected to bans on the use of e cigarettes indoors, because, he said, permitting indoor use is one way to make e cigarettes more convenient than traditional ones.

The European Commission, the European Union s Brussels based executive arm, and the European Council, which represents member governments, will still need to sign off on the final form of the legislation and the changes that Parliament made on Tuesday.

Individual countries would then have several years to adjust their national rules to conform to the new regulations.

The scale of lobbying by tobacco companies came to light in leaked confidential documents from the cigare
tte company Philip Morris International, whose brands include Marlboro. Obtained by antismoking activists and widely publicized by the European media, the documents detail an extensive lobbying campaign involving 161 Philip Morris employees.

A Philip Morris spokesman did not challenge the authenticity of the documents and said they appeared to have been stolen. He denied that the company wanted to block effective regulation.