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    EXCLUSIVE: European Union countries push for EU-wide flavour ban

    Alastair Cohen
    Alastair Cohen
    June 7, 2024
    3 min read
    Download Source FilesDownload Source Files

    The European Council - the most powerful legislative body in the European Union - will debate proposals for an EU-wide flavour ban for all nicotine products in a session on 21st June.

    Two confidential documents seen by Clearing the Air will be debated at the June session of EPSCO, which is made up of Ministers of Health from the 27 EU Member States.

    The first, authored by Latvia and supported by Cyprus, Estonia, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain, is titled a “call for action to protect young people from harm caused by novel tobacco and nicotine products”.

    That language - “novel tobacco and nicotine products” - is important as it is the same form of words preferred by the European Cancer Leagues, whose webinar we covered this week on Clearing the Air.

    The document claims that “the current approach EU level is not comprehensive enough as there are tobacco and nicotine products that are excluded from the flavour or or characterising flavour EU-level ban, and there are differences in the regulation of this aspect between the Member States”.

    EU countries with their own flavour bans are not able to implement them, the Latvian document claims, because cross border distance sales “is not fully banned at the EU level”. This means that “further common regulation at the EU level” is necessary.

    The call for a flavour ban will lead the European Commission to intensify efforts to revise the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive, which regulates vapes across the continent. That Directive allows Member States to decide whether flavours are permitted, and the EU Commission has not completed its assessment of the impact of that law.

    The second document seen by Clearing the Air, authored by the Danish Government, also makes the argument for harsh restrictions on flavoured vapes.

    “[T]he choice of tobacco and nicotine products has grown exponentially and many are explicitly marketed to appeal to children and adolescents”, the Danish paper reads. “Initiatives to regulate these products…have been introduced, but tobacco and nicotine products are not limited by national borders and national regulations”, the paper goes on, calling for the EU to take aggressive action to restrict flavours.

    Denmark is the home of Novo Nordisk, whose obesity drug Wegovy has made its stock price almost double in a year, and is thought to curb the desire to smoke.

    While the countries supporting the document would not be able to carry a majority in the Council on their own, the fact that it is being debated in such stark terms is a bad sign; it will encourage the Commission to offer the most restrictive proposal it can think of in 2025.

    Any proposal would then need to be approved by both the Council and the European Parliament, which will be elected this week and whose support for safer nicotine products could prove decisive when new rule are proposed, as we explained on Clearing the Air this week.

    Consumers who want to contact candidates for the European Parliament about the Council’s latest move can find out how to do so here.

    Original files available to download using the green link at the top of this page.

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