EU Moves To Restrict Cigarette Marketing To Lower Smoking Rates…Finally

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The EU is (finally) taking a queue from other countries and considering some severe tobacco restrictions, including banning menthol cigarettes and forcing tobacco companies to scale back their branding on cigarette packaging. Which means…the day when we can all go to a bar in Paris without a wall of second-hand smoke burning our eyeballs might be on the horizon. Hooray!

If statistics from every other country to implement tobacco restrictions are accurate, this also means declining rates of lung cancer and other smoking-related disease, which is why the EU is having these talks. “The figures speak for themselves: tobacco kills half of its users and is highly addictive,” said EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg.

The proposed laws are less strict than those recently enacted in Australia, but they’ll seriously hamper tobacco companies from boosting sales through branding if approved. They’d require 75% of cigarette packaging to be devoted to health warning labels, leaving only 25% for branding and marketing. Borg explained the rationale:

Consumers must not be cheated. Tobacco products should look and taste like tobacco products, and this proposal ensures that attractive packaging and flavorings are not used as a marketing strategy.

The plan would also ban slim cigarettes and menthol cigarettes, but only if approved by EU member states and the European Parliament. Blunting tobacco companies’ marketing strategies to this extent is the biggest effort we’ve seen from the EU to encourage people to quit smoking (and as compared to trying to ban cigarettes in Europe completely, it’s a smart approach). Now let’s hope that everyone can agree this is a good thing.

Photo: Flickr user zoetnet

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