MEPs rejected plans to ban so called slim cigarettes that are particularly attractive to young smokers and opted to phase out menthol cigarettes over eight years rather than three.

They also backed away from proposals to increase the size of health warnings on cigarette packs to cover 75 per cent of the box agreeing instead to the 65 per cent figure suggested by the industry. The current requirement for health warnings is for 30 per cent minimum coverage on one side and 40 per cent on the other.

The moves will be seen as a victory for the tobacco industry, which has spent more than 1m lobbying MEPs to reject the more stringent safety proposals agreed by European governments. The differences must now be resolved before May 2014, when there are new MEP elections.

This is a shameful day for the European Parliament, as a centre right majority has done the bidding of the tobacco industry and voted for weaker rules, which are totally at odds with citizens interests and public health, said Carl Schlyter, who co chairs the public health committee. The parliament s public health committee voted for robust legislation, with a view to tackling the 700,000 Europeans who die from smoking every year, but the core proposals have been scaled back. The only real victors from today s vote are big tobacco firms, whose aggressive and expensive lobbying campaigns have paid off.

But the EU Health Commissioner, Tonio Borg, called the vote positive . I am confident the revised Directive on Tobacco Products can still be adopted within the mandate of the current Parliament, he said.

Last week, The Independent revealed the scale of the tobacco industry lobbying operation. Philip Morris International, the maker of Marlboro, spent 1.2m wooing MEPs to water down safety proposals. A company spreadsheet showed it used 161 staff and consultants. By 22 June last year, 233 MEPs 31 per cent of the total had been met by PMI at least once.

MEPs rejected calls for e cigarettes to be subject to the same regulation as nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and gum. The lack of tobacco in e cigarettes means they are almost certainly a much safer way of getting a nicotine hit than smoking cigarettes, according to Cancer Research.

Chris Davies, a Liberal Democrat MEP, said E cigs can be a game changer. Hundreds of former smokers have written to tell me that they have helped them give up cigarettes when nothing else worked. They are successful because they are not medicines but products that smokers enjoy using as an alternative to cigarettes.

Not all electronic cigarettes comply with eu directives – authority –

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A number of electronic cigarettes found on the market do not comply with the essential health and safety requirements of the European directives under which such products fall, or are being claimed to fall, the Technical Regulations Division within the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority said.

It said in a statement that all electronic cigarettes should have the CE mark.

Moreover, products which either claim to assist the user to stop smoking and/or have other health claims and/or have a nicotine content of 10mg per ml or more fall under the Medical Devices Regulations.

Electronic cigarettes and their use must also comply with the provisions of legislation on tobacco products, even if they do not contain any nicotine, the division said.

It advised consumers that inhaling vapours could not in any way be considered healthy.

“It is evident from research carried out by the authority that a number of people are importing these cigarettes personally over the internet and are then selling them to consumers, or even to some retail outlets, on a one to one basis.

“The Technical Regulations Division reminds such economic operators that they are and remain personally responsible for the products they are placing on the market and that they may be liable for legal action should the products not conform to all applicable requirements.”

The division said that consumers who wished to report any unsafe product could do so directly on the authority s website, tel 2395 2000.