Nigel Farage Least well off will be affected

Menthol and “slim” cigarettes also face being outlawed by Brussels in an attempt to make smoking less attractive to young people.

The controversial diktat puts the EU on a collision course with governments across the continent, millions of smokers and business leaders, many of who are backing the Daily Express crusade to get Britain out of the EU.

Cigarette firms argue it will force smokers on to the black market and cost the Treasury in lost tax revenue.

Japan Tobacco International, owner of Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges, said more than 50 per cent of cigarette pack sales in the UK will be hit by the proposed legislation, aimed at reducing the 700,000 deaths across Europe each year from tobacco related illnesses.

Paul Williams, head of corporate affairs at JTI UK, warned that Britain risks “sleepwalking” into a situation where Europe will impose legislation “even more severe” than the Government s plans for plain packaging, which were abandoned last month.

New rules on cigarette sales will be debated by the European Parliament on September 10 and could begin as early as 2016.

Cigarette firms say ban will force smokers on to the black market

This is part of a wrong headed drive that will penalise the legal pleasures of the least well off

Nigel Farage

European legislators propose to outlaw the sale of cigarettes in packs of 10, which account for 38 per cent of packs sold in the UK.

Menthol and “slim” cigarettes would also be banned, while leaf tobacco would only be available in larger packs of at least 40 grammes. Currently, 92.2 per cent of leaf tobacco sold in the UK is in smaller packs of 25g and 12.5g. E cigarettes would also be subject to stricter rules.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said “This is part of a wrong headed drive that will penalise the legal pleasures of the least well off. The net result will be an increase in sub standard counterfeit and smuggled tobacco, which will have obvious negative health outcomes. Let alone a deliberate reduction in personal freedom, that is a matter of course from Brussels.”

The directive could also cost the Treasury f800million in lost revenue.

Ronan Barry, EU regulatory affairs manager at British American Tobacco, warned “There s an enormous risk.

“Just take menthol, if almost a million smokers in the UK wake up one morning and they can no longer buy their preferred product in the shop, there s a massive opportunity created for criminals and illegal traders to step in and meet the demand that the legal market can no longer supply.”

A spokesman for Philip Morris International, owner of the Marlboro brand, said the directive “prohibits products that account for 10 per cent of the EU cigarette market, despite the fact that there is no credible scientific evidence that these products are more harmful than others”.

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Us follows eu in restricting e-cigarettes

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The US government announced yesterday (24 April) a plan to regulate electronic cigarettes under a federal law governing tobacco products, following the European Union’s lead.

The European Parliament and member states voted in February to approve a revision to the EU’s tobacco products directive that will regulate e cigarettes for the first time. Up till now, the devices have not been covered by the law because they do not contain tobacco. Instead, they deliver nicotine through a liquid solution.

E cigarette advocates have said it is unfair to regulate the devices as tobacco when they do not contain any, and that over regulation will kill a valuable tool to quit smoking.

The new tobacco products directive, which takes effect next month, has become a lightning rod in the European Parliament elections campaigns with many e cigarette users blaming an urge for over regulation by the EU for the law. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has cited the new law in anti EU campaigning.

However it was national European governments that asked the EU to set a standardised way of dealing with the new devices. The European Commission pointed out that if the EU did not set a standard way of regulating the devices throughout the single market, EU countries would have adopted a patchwork of different regulations.

The US regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which still needs final approval, would be similar to the EU approach. E cigarette companies would need to register their products with the FDA and seek approval for the ingredients contained in the solution. The regulation would also forbid the sale of e cigarettes to people under 18, as for cigarettes.

The FDA would have to approve all health claims, and the companies would not be allowed to distribute free samples. Companies will be required to attach a nicotine addiction warning on their packaging. However unlike traditional cigarettes, e cigarettes will still be able to advertise in television and print.

Reaction to the US law from the industry and users has been significantly more restrained than the reaction to the EU law suggesting an air of inevitability following the EU vote. The Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association, an industry association representing e cigarette manufacturers, said in a statement that it welcomes FDA regulation.