Some campaigners had called for e cigarettes to be subjected to the same regulation as nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) such as patches and gum.

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.

Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies said after the vote “E cigs can be a game changer in the fight against smoking. Hundreds of former smokers have written to tell me that they have helped them give up cigarettes when nothing else worked.”

Conservative MEP Martin Callanan said “Forcing e cigs off the shelves would have been totally crazy.

“These are products that have helped countless people stop smoking more harmful cigarettes and yet some MEPs wanted to make them harder to manufacture than ordinary tobacco.”

Adrian Everett, chief executive of e cigarette brand E Lites, said “This is a fantastic result for public health and the millions of smokers around Europe who are switching to e cigarettes.

“We would have been in the absurd position of the Department of Health making it much easier to make and sell tobacco cigarettes than e cigarettes which are vastly less harmful.”

Tom Rolfe, president of the Skycig brand of e cigarettes said “Skycig welcome any regulations which will help us to ensure that under 18s cannot access electronic cigarettes and to ensure that all e cigarette companies must produce products of a high standard, in the same way that Skycig and other reputable e cigarette companies do.”

In addition, health warnings covering 65 per cent of cigarette packs could come into force and menthol cigarettes banned following an EU vote today.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg voted on a raft of measures to help curb smoking but stopped short of introducing plain packaging for cigarettes and tobacco.

Menthol and other flavours will be banned from 2022 but there is to be no ban on packs of slim cigarettes.

MEPs voted to put health warnings on 65 per cent of each cigarette pack, as opposed to the proposed 75 per cent.

At present, warnings should cover at least 30% of the front and 40% of the back of cigarette packs, with a border surrounding them.

Today’s vote also includes a ban on words like “light”, “mild” and “low tar” and a ban on oral tobacco although Sweden would retain its exemption.

Today marked the European Parliament’s first reading of the draft tobacco directive which could become law in 2014.

There will now be further negotiations with the Council the grouping of relevant EU ministers.

Health campaigners welcomed the news but British American Tobacco said the agreement went too far.

A spokesman said “We’ve always said that we support sensible, balanced regulation that takes into account all the people it will impact before being decided on and implemented.

“We have made it clear throughout this process that many of the proposals on the table were not proportionate, were unlikely to succeed in addressing public health objectives, and would lead to an increase in black market sales.

“Although there are clearly many differing opinions among MEPs when it comes to this directive, it appears as if some sensible modifications have been made.

“However, much of this directive remains disproportionate and could be in breach of European law.

“For example, health warnings covering more than half of the cigarette pack goes well beyond what is needed to fully inform consumers of the health risks and a ban on mentholated cigarettes will only increase the demand for black market goods.

“The weight of evidence shows that smokers of menthol cigarettes face no higher risk of tobacco related diseases than smokers of non menthol cigarettes, that they find it no more difficult to quit and that the availability of menthol cigarettes does not increase youth initiation of smoking.

“Banning menthol in cigarettes is not justifiable based on the available scientific evidence.”

On packaging, the spokesman said the firm “strongly opposed the standardisation of our products.

“No evidence has been presented to justify why it is deemed necessary to restrict the dimensions or colours of a package or the way in which it can be opened.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said “We are pleased that MEPs recognised the importance of increasing the size of health warnings and that these will be placed at the top of the packs to make them more visible.

“Despite unprecedented levels of lobbying by the tobacco industry to undermine the directive it is gratifying that MEPs stood firm on many of the key measures.”

Angela Harbutt, campaigns manager of the smokers’ group Forest, said “Consumers will have mixed feelings.

“We welcome the fact that some products have been reprieved while menthol cigarettes have been given a stay of execution, but consumers are still angry that the EU is trying to restrict or ban products they have purchased and enjoyed for many years.

“Prohibition doesn’t work and products that are banned will almost certainly be available on the unregulated black market.”

Maura Gillespie, policy programme director at the British Heart Foundation, said “MEPs have missed an opportunity to make real inroads into curbing the number of young people taking up smoking.

“It’s positive news that cigarette warnings are getting substantially bigger but MEPs could and should have gone further.

“Research shows health warnings that take up 75% or more of a cigarette box are more effective at reducing the attractiveness of products among our young people.

“The ban on flavoured tobacco is also welcome but it’s extremely disappointing slim cigarettes have not been banned.

“They’re dangerous products often targeted at young women that can mislead people about the harms of smoking.

“Now it’s up to the UK Government to show they’re made of stronger stuff and introduce standardised packs, stripped of attractive branding, without delay.”

Europa – press releases – press release – european commission and british american tobacco sign agreement to combat illicit trade in tobacco

Local cigarette store shopping guide


Brussels, 15 July 2010

European Commission and British American Tobacco sign agreement to combat illicit trade in tobacco

Today the European Commission announced a multi year agreement with British American Tobacco (BAT) to work together in tackling the illicit trade in tobacco products. Under the legally binding agreement, BAT will work with the European Commission, its anti fraud office OLAF, and Member States law enforcement authorities to help in the fight against contraband and counterfeit cigarettes. The Agreement includes substantial payments by BAT to the Commission and Member States, totalling USD 200 million (EUR 134 million) over the next 20 years. It should make a significant contribution to the EU s efforts to fight the illicit tobacco trade, which robs the EU and Member States of billions of Euros every year.

Commission President Jos Manuel Barroso said I welcome this important agreement, which will help to protect the EU s financial interests and strengthen our forces against contraband and counterfeit cigarettes.

Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti fraud and Audit, Algirdas emeta said The illicit trade in cigarettes results in billions of euros of lost tax and customs revenue every year. Particularly at this time of economic difficulty, we must take every measure we can to stop this costly illegal activity. Today s agreement will help greatly in combating the illegal trade in cigarettes and will send a strong signal to criminals that they have both the authorities and industry working against them.

Fight against counterfeit and contraband

It is estimated that the EU and Member States lose up to 10 billion euro in unpaid taxes every year from counterfeit and smuggled tobacco products. In addition, counterfeit and other forms of contraband create a parallel illegal supply chain that undermines legitimate distribution channels and competes unfairly with genuine products distributed through legitimate channels. The illicit trade in cigarettes is often used to fund more sinister activities, such as terrorism and organised crime. For all these reasons, the Commission and the EU Member States have made the fight against counterfeit and contraband cigarettes a significant priority.

Over the last few years, despite the success of measures taken by the EU, Member States and the industry, the incidence of contraband and counterfeit cigarettes continues to diversify and grow. The Commission has therefore stepped up its efforts to combat the illegal trade in counterfeit cigarettes. These include working with Member State and third countries enforcement officials to investigate cigarette counterfeiting, targeting and interrupting the production of counterfeit cigarettes, and recording and pursuing seizures of counterfeit cigarettes in the EU to identify the source of the product and other relevant information.

An Agreement to improve the fight against contraband

Today s agreement, which was initiated by BAT, reflects the fact that coordination and cooperation between EU law enforcement authorities and manufacturers like BAT can significantly contribute to the success in defeating the illicit trade in tobacco products.

The Agreement introduces strong provisions and procedures for cooperation and intelligence sharing, to allow law enforcement authorities to take more effective action against criminals in Europe and around the world. In addition, BAT will build on its existing supply chain controls, by strengthening its review process for selecting and monitoring customers, to enhance its capabilities to track and trace certain packaging, and to provide expanded support to European law enforcement bodies in the battle against the illegal trade in cigarettes. The Agreement also incorporates BAT s existing compliance programmes, and builds them into a comprehensive contractual framework.

Far reaching product tracking procedures are also included in the agreement, to enable enforcement bodies to determine the sources and destination of BAT brands and verify if they may be counterfeit. Consistent with the Agreement, BAT will mark certain packaging with information indicating the intended market of retail sale, mark master cases 1 of cigarettes with machine scannable barcode labels, and implement other procedures to improve the tracking and tracing of its products.

These obligations are consistent with the anti contraband provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and will underpin the efforts of the EU to promote a strong Protocol to that Convention on Eliminating the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

In addition to the above benefits, the European Union and participating Member States will receive substantial payments from BAT over a number of years. BAT has committed to pay a total of USD 200 million (EUR 134 million) over 20 years.

The Agreement also includes a guarantee by BAT to make payments in the event of future seizures of its genuine products in the EU, above specified quantities. These payments will be available to all participating Member States.

More details MEMO/10/334.

The Agreement


“Master case” means packaging for approximately 10,000 cigarettes.