Smoking is a deadly habit that causes almost 700,000 deaths a year in the EU and costs over €30 billion in healthcare and loss of productivity. Although there has been a decline in smoking prevalence in Europe, tobacco remains a huge problem, with an average of at least one in four adults across Europe smoking.
The Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU) introduced to all EU countries on the 20th of May, 2016 aims to improve the functioning of the internal market for tobacco and related products, while ensuring a high level of health protection for European citizens. It outlines a number of changes for tobacco products sold in the EU. These include:
- LARGER AND MANDATORY PICTORIAL HEALTHWARNINGS
Graphic health warnings with photos, text and cessation information will cover 65% of the front and the back of cigarette packs. This is aimed to discourage people from smoking or encourage them to quit. The warnings are grouped in three sets, to be rotated every year, to ensure that they retain their impact for as long as possible.
- BAN ON CIGARETTES AND RYO WITH CHARACTERISING FLAVOURS
Cigarettes and roll your own (RYO) tobacco products may no longer have characterising flavours such as menthol, vanilla or candy that mask the taste and smell of tobacco. The ban will apply as of 2020.
- REPLACEMENT OF TNCO LABELLING
The tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide (TNCO) labelling on cigarettes and RYO tobacco will now be replaced with an information message that informs consumers that ‘Tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer.’ The new information message will more accurately reflect the true health consequences of smoking.
- NO MORE PROMOTIONAL OR MISLEADING PACKAGES
Cigarette packs must have a cuboid shape to ensure visibility of the combined health warnings. Slim packs and other irregular shaped packs will no longer be allowed. Packs containing less than 20 cigarettes are also banned. Promotional and/or misleading features or elements are not allowed on tobacco packages. References to lifestyle benefits, taste or flavourings, special offers, suggestions that a particular product is less harmful than another, or has improved biodegradability or other environmental advantages, will no longer be possible.
- MANDATORY ELECTRONIC REPORTING ON INGREDIENTS
To gather more information on the ingredients contained in tobacco products and their effects on health and addiction, manufacturers and importers of tobacco products are required to report on ingredients in all products they place on the EU.
- SAFETY AND QUALITY REQUIREMENTS FOR E-CIGARETTES
The Tobacco Products Directive introduces safety and quality requirements for e-cigarettes containing nicotine which is a toxic substance. The Directive sets maximum nicotine concentrations and maximum volumes for cartridges, tanks and nicotine liquid containers. E-cigarettes should be child resistant and tamper proof and have a mechanism that ensures refilling without spillage to protect consumers. They must be of high purity and e-cigarettes should deliver the same amount of nicotine for puffs of the same strength and duration.
- PACKAGING AND LABELLING RULES FOR E-CIGARETTES
Health warnings for e-cigarettes become mandatory advising consumers that e-cigarettes contain nicotine and should not be used by non-smokers. Packaging must also include a list of all ingredients contained in the product, information on the product’s nicotine content and a leaflet setting out instructions for use and information on adverse effects, risk groups and addictiveness and toxicity.
- MONITORING AND REPORTING OF DEVELOPMENTS RELATED TO E-CIGARETTES
As e-cigarettes are a relatively new product for which evidence is only starting to emerge, the Directive lays down monitoring and reporting requirements for manufacturers and importers.
- MEASURES TO COMBAT ILLICIT TRADE
The smoking prevalence across EU is decreasing and we need to sustain this decrease by all the measures applicable. This directive should ensure that fewer young people take up this deadly habit.
The sooner a person stops, the greater the reduction in risk. In fact, researchers have found that if a person stops smoking before the age of 50 the mortality risk is virtually reduced to that of a non-smoker. Even if someone gives up after the age of 60, the risk of dying at any given age is reduced by about 39% compared to a person who carries on smoking.
Support is available from the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate through walk in smoking cessation clinics in Floriana and Mosta health centres in the evenings.
Contact the directorate on +356 23266000 for more information.