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Brussels, 24 September 2010

Health: Commission launches public consultation on revision of the tobacco products Directive

Today the Commission launches a public consultation on the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive (2001/37/EC). The Commission invites all stakeholders to give their input on the different options and to comment on possible measures to improve awareness of the dangers of tobacco use, increase motivation to quit and discourage initiation of smoking. Examples of such measures that could be considered are bigger, double-sided health pictorial warnings on cigarette packages, plain packaging and the regulation of harmful, addictive and attractive substances in tobacco products. This consultation is an important step towards the adoption of a legislative proposal planned for beginning of 2012.

EU Health Commissioner John Dalli said: "Tobacco is not a product like any other: it is addictive and it means illness and suffering for our citizens and avoidable healthcare spending for European governments. And, still, 30% of Europeans smoke. I am particularly concerned with the 35% of young Europeans who smoke. " To conclude: " On the eve of World Heart Day I want to remind Europeans that all tobacco exposure -- smoking, second-hand smoke or chewing - can increase the risk of heart attack or other cardiovascular problems".

What are the current rules?

The Tobacco Products Directive dates from 2001. It stipulates maximum limits in cigarettes for substances such as nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. It also requires manufacturers to put textual health warnings on tobacco products and bans terms such as "light", "mild" or "low tar".

Why the revision?

The Commission aims to facilitate the functioning of the internal market in the tobacco products sector while ensuring a high level of protection to public health.

The Commission's initiative is in response to requests by the European Parliament as well as the Commission's report on the implementation of the Directive1 that identified potential areas for improvement. In the EP's Resolution of 2007 on the Green Paper "Towards a Europe free from Tobacco smoke: policy options at EU level", the Member States were asked to reduce smoking in young people by 50% by 2025. Stricter rules on tobacco products would be an important contribution to achieve this target.

The Commission invites all stakeholders to comment, until 19th November 2010, on problems that are identified in the public consultation, including:

  • Legislation in Member States varies widely across the EU and does not sufficiently address health and safety concerns relating to certain tobacco and nicotine products such as electronic cigarettes.

  • Pictorial warnings are currently used in four Member States: Belgium, Romania, the UK and Latvia. This means that the level of information for EU consumers about the dangers of smoking can vary considerably from one Member State to another.

  • Regulation allowing or forbidding potentially harmful, addictive and attractive substances, including flavours, varies widely between Member States.

  • Information on ingredients in tobacco is difficult to understand, compare and analyze at present. This is due to a variety of formats and reporting mechanisms in different Member States.


Tobacco is the single largest cause of avoidable death in the European Union, accounting for around 650.000 premature deaths each year.

To help reduce tobacco consumption throughout the EU and also internationally the Commission pursues a comprehensive tobacco control policy. A wide range of activities and initiatives including tobacco control legislation and awareness raising activities contribute to this end.

For more information:

The consultation on the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive:

Tobacco policy in the EU:


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