Larger health warnings for cigarette boxes but no slims ban

8 October 2013        

Category: Survival and support

Cigarette on ashtray

A key vote in the European Parliament means health warnings on cigarette packs will get bigger, but slim cigarettes have disappointingly not been banned.

Today’s MEP vote (Oct 08) on the EU Tobacco Products Directive will mean:

  • Health warnings will cover 65 per cent of cigarette packs, on both sides and top of the box
  • A ban on flavoured tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes
  • A ban on cigarettes being sold in packs of less than 20

However, MEPs in Strasbourg voted against a ban on slim cigarettes, regulating e-cigarettes in the same way as medicines, and the introduction of standardised cigarette packs.

Maura Gillespie, our Policy Programme Director, said: “MEPs have missed an opportunity to make real inroads into curbing the number of young people taking up smoking.

Now it’s up to the UK Governments to show they’re made of stronger stuff and introduce standardised packs without delay.

“It’s positive news that cigarette warnings are getting substantially bigger but MEPs could and should have gone further. Research shows health warnings that take up 75 per cent or more of a cigarette box are more effective at reducing the attractiveness of products among our young people.

“The ban on flavoured tobacco is also welcome but it’s extremely disappointing slim cigarettes have not been banned. They’re dangerous products - often targeted at young women - that can mislead people about the harms of smoking.

“Now it’s up to the UK Governments to show they’re made of stronger stuff and introduce standardised packs, stripped of attractive branding, without delay.”

Our survey found current cigarette packs only put a third of UK teenagers off smoking, compared to nearly half of teenagers in Australia, the first country in the world to adopt standardised packaging.

The same poll showed around 8 in 10 British teenagers want the UK Government to introduce standardised cigarette packs.

Later this month, the House of Lords will also be debating a cross-party amendment to the Children and Families Bill, which could help standardised packaging become a reality in the UK. Under the reform, cigarette packs will be a generic size and colour which, research shows, makes warnings about the harmful effects of cigarettes stand out more.