Smoking is the leading cause of preventable diseases in the EU. Tobacco-related diseases kill around 700 000 Europeans per year. Measures to reduce smoking include taxation, restrictions on advertising, health warnings, education and awareness-raising campaigns and smoking bans in public places.
Some 175 countries and the EU have signed the UN Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, committing them to taking measures to reduce tobacco demand and supply.
In order to make tobacco products less attractive to young people, the Commission proposed on 19 December 2012 a revision of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) which would ban additives, flavours and slim ciga-rettes, require large pictorial health warnings, and regulate smokeless products, novel tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.
The European Parliament’s Environment Committee appointed Linda McAvan (S&D, UK) as rapporteur and held a public hearing on tobacco products in February 2013.
The tobacco industry is concerned that the proposed legislation violates intellectual property and trademark rights and could lead to increased illicit trade. On the other hand, public-health NGOs advocate plain packaging without any branding. Legal experts argue that the proposed legislation is at the limits of EU competence.