Small packs of cigarettes and roll your own (RYO) tobacco are to be banned under new rules just agreed by the European Parliament and EU Member States.

The new EU Tobacco Products Directive (EUTPD), which has just reached the end of its lengthy trialogue process, decrees that cigarettes will no longer be able to be sold in packs of less than 20 and RYO in packs of less than 30g.

Health warnings will also be increased to cover 65% of the front and back of packs, and text warnings added to the sides, the new rules state.

Slim ‘lipstick’ sized packs will also be banned as a result of new minimum dimensions for health warnings.

Member States that want to introduce plain packaging have also been given the go ahead.

All promotional elements on tobacco packs and references to taste or flavourings will also be prohibited.

Menthol cigarettes will also be banned, but not until the summer of 2020 after a longer four-year transitory period was agreed.

On electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) the Directive has decreed that products can remain on the market as long as they meet new mandatory safety and quality requirements including a maximum nicotine concentration level of 20 mg/ml. 

The new rules also make health warnings and information leaflets obligatory.

In a bid to combat the illicit trade, the Directive also introduces an EU-wide tracking and tracing system with new security features including holograms for tobacco.

Cigarettes and RYO products will be the first to be phased in to this system, with other tobacco products following after.

This agreement will now be voted on in the European Parliament Plenary before being formally adopted by the Council. Member states will then have two year to transpose the new rules into national law.

 JTI’s managing director Jorge da Motta said the European Council’s decision was an “early Christmas present for criminal gangs.”

“Banning 10s and smaller pack sizes of RYO will mean the lowest price will now be the street price sold by criminals who peddle to anyone, including children.

Meanwhile the Government’s exchequer will have to plug the gap left from the flood of non-duty UK paid cigarettes and roll your own tobacco which will come in to the UK,” he added.