The European Commission issued on Friday new restrictions for tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.

Reportedly, the regulations are to reduce the encouragement from tobacco companies caused on potential customers. The regulations focus on packaging, although sales methods have also been redefined.

Standardized Cigarette Package
Standardized Cigarette Packages. Image credit: The European Commission.

Packet design will be standardized and ‘deglamorized’

EU member countries will have to adhere to new rules concerning tobacco and e-cigarette sales, as Europe has the highest prevalence of tobacco smokers, with at least 1 out of every 5 European adults smoking tobacco.

The main changes have to do with how the products are packaged and presented to the public. 65 percent of the cigarette pack will have to be covered in text and cessation information stressing the many adverse impacts of smoking. The warnings will be rotated each year to “retain their influence for as long as possible.”

The labeling on cigarette packets will have to contain a warning informing consumers that 7 out of 10 substances in a cigarette can cause cancer.

Additionally, flavored tobacco products may not be sold anymore. This includes vanilla and menthol-flavored cigarettes that can disguise the taste of tobacco. This regulation will take effect in 2020.

The shape of the cigarette packets will also change, as the commission is now enforcing a cuboid shape to assure that the warnings can be seen from any point of view. The packets will also have to come with 20 or more cigarettes. 10-packs will be banned as they are the most common variety purchased by younger audiences. Special offers and references to lifestyles portraying tobacco use will also be restricted.

In the case of e-cigarettes, the product will have to include a warning showing that they do contain nicotine and that it is a product that should not be used by people who do not smoke regularly, as they are meant to be an alternative for tobacco users. E-cigarette manufacturers also have to report their respective countries of sales volumes and consumer trends.

In the future, the EU may forbid selling tobacco products among member states, although this restriction is being studied for the time being.

The U.K. joins the EU in this effort

The U.K. is also implementing constraints in the form of the Tobacco Products Directive, issued last Saturday. Tobacco displays will be removed from shops, and standardized packaging will be performed after a long and arduous campaign.

In the U.K., the packets will also come in a green-brown color that’s designed to be unattractive to buyers. The name of the manufacturer will be standardized, and the cigarette packet altogether will be made look as ugly as possible.

Menthol-flavored cigarettes
“Research shows that standard packs reduce the appeal of tobacco products to children and help demonstrate the realities of smoking by increasing the prominence of graphic health warnings,” warns The Cancer Research U.K. foundation. Image credit: Tumblr.

On the other hand, pro-tobacco groups claim that “adults and even teenagers are under no illusions about the health risks of smoking,” although the real implications of using a product are never known unless the consumer is exposed to educational material of some kind.

Source: European Commission