Campaigners at the tobacco lobby group, Forest, said consumers and retailers will have “mixed feelings” following this week’s European Parliament vote on the European Commission’s proposal for a revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).
MEPs voted against a ban on slim cigarettes and rejected a ban on all smaller pouches of roll your own tobacco (the European Commission wanted to ban pouches of 12.5g and 25g but MEPs voted to allow 20g pouches.)
The Parliament approved a ban on menthol cigarettes but voted to delay implementation for five years.
Angela Harbutt, campaign’s manager of the smokers’ group Forest, which runs the No Thank EU campaign, 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. Law-abiding consumers will be at a serious disadvantage and it won’t help children because criminal gangs don’t care who they sell to.”
Harbutt dismissed as “gesture politics” the European Parliament’s decision to increase the size of the health warning to 65% of the pack.
“Increasing the size of the health warning is gesture politics. It won’t stop people smoking because everyone already knows about the health risks of smoking. It’s incredibly patronising, even to teenagers, and the impact on smoking rates will be negligible.”
Harbutt accused the European Parliament of ignoring the concerns of consumers and retailers.
Forest this week revealed a letter writing campaign, opposing revisions to the Tobacco Products Directive, had generated almost 45,000 letters to MPs and MEPs in the United Kingdom.