Tobacco Directive prescribes warning photos on cigarette boxes

Tobacco Directive prescribes warning photos on cigarette boxes

ECJ confirms new rules for cigarettes and e-cigarettes
Luxembourg (jur). In May 2016, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg confirmed the legality of the EU Tobacco Directive (file number: C-358/14 and others). Among other things, it provides larger warnings with photos on the packs.

The new tobacco directive was adopted in April 2014. Germany has not yet implemented them. After the two-year implementation period has expired, the directive will apply automatically from May 19, 2016, even without German law.

The new directive in particular provides for larger warning notices with photos that show health effects caused by smoking. A box must contain at least 20 cigarettes. Menthol and other additives are banned if they clearly overlay the tobacco taste and give a cigarette a "characteristic taste".

The regulations for e-cigarettes are also being tightened. This limits the size of the refill bottle and the tanks of disposable e-cigarettes as well as the nicotine concentration contained in the “liquid”. E-cigarettes are subject to registration, must have child protection and an instruction leaflet, and they should also be banned from advertising and the obligation to issue warning notices.

Poland had brought an action against the directive directly at the ECJ and manufacturers in Great Britain. Poland particularly opposed the ban on menthol cigarettes (file number: C-358/14). The British manufacturer of Pillbox38 e-cigarettes complained about the new requirements for e-cigarettes (Az .: C-477/14). The tobacco company Philip Morris wanted to ensure that the EU directive is not fully implemented in Great Britain (Az .: C-547/14).

The ECJ has now confirmed the directive. Menthol and other flavors should make smoking more pleasant and make it easier to start nicotine consumption. This runs counter to the Europe-wide goal of reducing tobacco consumption. In addition, the individual EU countries dealt with this problem in very different ways. Therefore, a uniform regulation for the entire EU internal market is justified.

The new rules for the design of the packs were also approved by the top EU judges. The EU legislator "has not exceeded the limits of what is suitable and necessary".

E-cigarettes differed significantly from tobacco products, the ECJ continued. It is therefore not against the principle of equal treatment that there are independent regulations. Given the growing market, EU-wide regulations are also necessary to ensure free trade. In view of the “proven and potential risks” of e-cigarettes, the EU legislator was also allowed to take precautionary restrictive regulations.

Finally, the Luxembourg judges emphasized the validity of the directive in all EU countries. Great Britain and other countries should therefore only make their own regulations insofar as the directive does not contain any binding requirements. (mwo)

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