Small packs of cigarettes and roll your own (RYO) tobacco are to be banned under new rules just agreed by the European Parliament and EU Member States.

The new EU Tobacco Products Directive (EUTPD), which has just reached the end of its lengthy trialogue process, decrees that cigarettes will no longer be able to be sold in packs of less than 20 and RYO in packs of less than 30g.

Health warnings will also be increased to cover 65% of the front and back of packs, and text warnings added to the sides, the new rules state.

Slim lipstick sized packs will also be banned as a result of new minimum dimensions for health warnings.

Member States that want to introduce plain packaging have also been given the go ahead.

All promotional elements on tobacco packs and references to taste or flavourings will also be prohibited.

Menthol cigarettes will also be banned, but not until the summer of 2020 after a longer four year transitory period was agreed.

On electronic cigarettes (e cigs) the Directive has decreed that products can remain on the market as long as they meet new mandatory safety and quality requirements including a maximum nicotine concentration level of 20 mg/ml.

The new rules also make health warnings and information leaflets obligatory.

In a bid to combat the illicit trade, the Directive also introduces an EU wide tracking and tracing system with new security features including holograms for tobacco.

Cigarettes and RYO products will be the first to be phased in to this system, with other tobacco products following after.

This agreement will now be voted on in the European Parliament Plenary before being formally adopted by the Council. Member states will then have two year to transpose the new rules into national law.

JTI s managing director Jorge da Motta said the European Council s decision was an early Christmas present for criminal gangs.

Banning 10s and smaller pack sizes of RYO will mean the lowest price will now be the street price sold by criminals who peddle to anyone, including children.

Meanwhile the Government s exchequer will have to plug the gap left from the flood of non duty UK paid cigarettes and roll your own tobacco which will come in to the UK, he added.

Urgent: e-cigarettes under threat – here’s how you can stop the ban! forums

An EU Directive drafted by an EU commissioner since forced to resign for alleged corruption (seeking bribes from manufacturers of safe alternatives to cigarettes in return for editing the tobacco directive) could go into law unless we stop it.

The Directive will mean a ban on electronic cigarettes cartridges and juice with a nicotine content of over 0.4%. 0.4% is not enough to satisfy the needs of smokers switching from tobacco cigarettes to safer alternatives.

That s despite the fact that many scientists believe e cigarettes could be 99% or more safer than tobacco cigarettes, while the UK government Nudge Unit believes the device has the ability to save thousands of lives.

Smokers who can t or don t want to quit will no longer have an alternative, and surveys suggest that over 60% of e cig users would return to tobacco cigarettes.

Meanwhile, the MHRA is shortly due to decide the fate of electronic cigarettes. One of the biggest dangers is that they will insist on regulations that existing companies/technology can not meet. This could also mean an effective ban on electronic cigarettes.

Cause for hope

There is already cause for hope. I know of a number of vapers who have written to their MPs/MEPs and have had a positive reaction such as this one

As a member of the Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety I will do everything in my power to make the arguments and convince other MEPs of the foolishness of diluting nicotine solution to the point of uselessness.

I would also encourage you to raise awareness among others in the vapourizing community. The internet offers considerable opportunities to draw the attention of a wide audience to the issue and to contact your elected representatives quickly and easily. If you have not already done so I would encourage you to write to your MP and request him to raise the matter in Westminster, and persuade other e cigarette users to do the same. If we bring to the attention of the public, the political world and the media the strong arguments in favour of e cigarettes as a harm reduction device and the number of lives which can be saved through their use, we have a very strong chance of winning the argument.”

With very best wishes,

Martin Callanan MEP
Conservative Member of the European Parliament for the North East
Leader, European Conservatives and Reformists Group

Clive Bates (former director of Action on Smoking and Health) also tells me that vapers writing to the Medicines and Health Regulatory Authority (MHRA) have had a big impact on the consultation.

But we need to reach as many people as we can. Here s what Clive had to say

Politicians do listen, but not if no one is speaking up! Don’t leave it to others it’s the voice, experience and concerns of ordinary voters/vapers that really sway politicians, not the views of experts.

But time s running out

The crucial date for the consultation is the 25th February, when an EU parliamentary commitee will meet to discuss the directive.

What to do

If you are an e cig user

Write to your MP/MEP. It s easy and free to find out who your MP/MEP is just visit Write to Them and enter your postcode.

For tips on what to say and how to say it, visit Clive Bate s excellent blog on the topic.

If you are a retailer

Write to your customers, and tell them how to contact their MP/MEP many happy users of electronic cigarette do not even know of the threat, or of the actions they can take to stop a ban.

Tags ban, campaign, lobbying