Retailers have just over a month left to have their say on a raft of reforms to the European Tobacco Products Directive (EUTPD).
Last month the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted in favour of a battery of stronger tobacco control measures, including a ban on all cigarette pack sizes under 20-packs, and roll-your-own (RYO) packs of less than in 40g.
The ENVI Committee also endorsed the increase of pictorial warnings covering 75% of the pack (front and the back); a ban on the use of cigarette flavours including menthol; and the removal of slim cigarettes from the market. It also supported the classification of electronic cigarettes as medical products, but rejected amendments on plain packaging.
The court of the Plenary of the European Parliament (EP) will now vote on these revisions in September.
Following this decisive vote, the EP will have to reach an agreement with the EU Health Ministers.
The smokers lobby group Forest is urging existing adult smokers, tobacco retailers and other interested parties to register their opposition to the changes via an online petition on its website www.nothankeu.com.
Forest campaigns manager Angela Harbutt said: “Prohibition doesn’t work. Retailers will be robbed of income from outlawed products and, denied choice, consumers will be driven to the black market where there will be a flourishing trade in banned goods.
“Regulations like this should be a matter for elected politicians in Westminster, not unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. We urge retailers and consumers who share our concern to make their opinions known by supporting our campaign.”
The group has also set up a pro-forma letter for retailers to send to their elected representatives in Brussels which it will send on their behalf.
“The entire tobacco supply chain, but especially the hard working retailer in the street, will be severely affected if this regulation is enforced,” Colin Wragg, Imperial Tobacco’s head of UK corporate and legal affairs added. “This directive will have severe consequences for job preservation, job creation and most importantly, retailers’ income if introduced.”