Source: European parliament website


Subject: Answer to written question on the Revision of Tobacco Products Directive and follow-up of resolution P6_TA (2007)0471


Date published: April 28 2008



Written question E-0609/08 by Jules Maaten (ALDE) to the Commission:


1. Article 11 of the Tobacco Products Directive (2001/37/EC(1)) says the Commission's report should be accompanied ‘… by any proposals for amendments to this directive which the Commission deems necessary to adapt it to developments in the field of tobacco products, to the extent necessary for the establishment and operation of the internal market, and to take into account any new development based on scientific facts and developments on internationally agreed product standards.’ Does the EC agree that since 2001 there have been considerable developments, as for example electronic and smoke-free cigarettes, in the tobacco market and that there is a need to address these by amending the directive in order to maintain the proper functioning of the internal market?


2. Does the EC plan to follow up on the request of the European Parliament to the European Commission ‘to list and quantify the concrete harmful effects of smoking among youth in the Member States with a view to subsequently formulating European objectives for Member States aimed at curbing the uptake and consumption of tobacco among young people, with Member States committing themselves to reduce smoking among youth by at least 50 % by 2025’,as laid down in resolution P6_TA(2007)0471 from the European Parliament?


3. Does the EC plan to follow up on the request of the European Parliament ‘urgently to investigate the health risks associated with consumption of snus and its impact on the consumption of cigarettes’, as laid down in resolution P6_TA(2007)0471 from the European Parliament?


4. Will the Commission submit proposals to make warning pictures mandatory on all tobacco products sold in the European Union, and will the European Commission also include labelling requirements for all tobacco products to show clear contact details to help smokers quit, such as a relevant free phone number or website, and to include in cigarette packages a leaflet informing smokers on how to quit?


(1) OJ L 194, 18.7.2001, p. 26.


Answer given by Ms Vassiliou on behalf of the Commission on April 25 2008:


The Commission noted in the Second Report[1] on the application of the Tobacco Products Directive[2], that the tobacco products market has increasingly diversified and new types of tobacco and nicotine products are emerging in the European market.


Since April 2007, the Tobacco Products Regulatory Committee has been monitoring new tobacco and nicotine products.  Member States have reported different types of new products available or emerging in their market. Some of these products contain tobacco and therefore the requirements of the Tobacco Products Directive apply: packages must have textual warnings, ingredients have to be reported, and safety claims are prohibited. In case a product (e.g. the so-called "electronic cigarette") does not contain tobacco but only nicotine it is not covered by the Tobacco Products Directive. As noted in the Report, this raises the issue of whether the present regulatory framework for tobacco products, pharmaceuticals and food allows tackling these new products effectively.


The Commission will continue discussion of the Report's findings in the Regulatory Committee to identify options for better control of the new products.


The Commission gives full attention to all measures which reduce use of tobacco products among young people. “HELP – For a life without tobacco” is the biggest public health awareness-raising initiative ever organised at EU level. Its youth component challenges the image of smoking as being "cool".


The Report suggests several measures to reduce the attractiveness of tobacco products and consequently reduce the initiation of smoking among young people: increased size of textual warnings, mandatory pictorial warnings on the both sides of the package, ban of additives which increase the attractiveness of products and introduction of generic packages. 


Setting targets for reduction of smoking among youth will be discussed in the context of the implementation of the EU Health Strategy.


In order to get a better understanding of the health risks of various smokeless tobacco products, the Commission has requested the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) to prepare an opinion on the health effects of smokeless tobacco products.


The SCENIHR adopted the opinion on 6 February 2008. It provides the Commission with an updated and useful assessment in order to be able to responsibly exercise its risk management competences. All risk management options will be explored in detail.


The opinion states that, even if there are different types of smokeless tobacco products and the health risks related to their use vary considerably, all of them are addictive and can cause cancer. They also may have additional cardiovascular effects and could eventually be associated to adverse reproductive effects when used during pregnancy.


It also states that it is not possible to extrapolate future patterns of tobacco use across countries. In particular, it is not possible to extrapolate the trends in prevalence of smoking and oral tobacco use if it were made available in an EU-country where it is now unavailable due to societal and cultural differences.


As a first reaction, the Commission feels that the SCENIHR's opinion calls for a cautious approach when considering the different risk management options.


The Commission appreciates the proposals included in the Parliament's resolution on how to improve the effectiveness of current picture warnings on tobacco packages, e.g. by mandating pictures and cessation information on all tobacco products. These ideas have been discussed in the second report on the implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive which analyses the state of implementation of the Directive and identifies areas that merit future amendments.


As regards cessation information, Article 4.5 of Commission Decision 2003/641/EC[3] already envisages that Member States may complement the combined warnings with quit-line telephone numbers, Internet addresses or other visual elements informing about the support available to those who want to stop smoking.

[1]   COM (2007)754 final

[2]   Directive 2001/37/EC of the Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2001 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products, OJ L 194, 18.7.2001

[3]   OJ L 226, 10.9.2003