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EU Parliament Clears Way for Stricter Tobacco Rules
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 08 - 10 - 2013

AlHijjah 3, 1434, Oct 8, 2013, SPA -- The European Parliament agreed on Tuesday to move forward with stricter new rules to curb smoking in the European Union, setting the stage for negotiations with governments and spurring hopes that a final deal can still be struck this year.
"I'm hopeful that we will get a tobacco products directive for Christmas if we're lucky," said British EU lawmaker Linda McAvan, who will be representing the parliament in the talks.
"It's not the end of the road," said the EU's top health official, Commissioner Tonio Borg. "EU citizens expect all of us to act on tobacco and to adopt in the near future new legislation which will put the EU in the frontline, on a global stage."
Currently, 28 per cent of the EU's 500 million citizens are believed to be smokers, compared to - for example - 18 per cent in the United States. Some 700,000 Europeans are estimated to die of tobacco-related diseases every year, dpa reported.
"Europe is not ahead on tobacco policy. We are lagging behind the US, we're lagging behind many, many Latin American countries," McAvan told her colleagues during a pre-vote debate at the parliament's plenary in Strasbourg. "It's time to play catch-up."
The measures the EU is considering are meant to make smoking less attractive, particularly for young people. They include minimum requirements for health warnings on tobacco products, restrictions on flavourings such as menthol, and regulation of so-called e-cigarettes.
The parliament on Tuesday set out its position on the proposed changes, recommending that tobacco firms be forced into covering 65 per cent of their packages with graphic health warnings, and that menthol cigarettes be phased out over five years.

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