Got a light?

The EU Parliament was recently handed a proposal for stricter tobacco legislation. The proposed laws would instill an immediate ban on mentholated cigarettes and would allow for graphic health warnings to cover 75% of a cigarette pack. It is the hopes of the legislation’s proponents that this will deter the younger generations from purchasing tobacco products and will cause an overall decrease in the amount of tobacco products that are bought. However, the parliament handed back a much less effective version of the proposal. The revised version would ban mentholated cigarettes in an eight-year time span and said health warnings should only cover 65% of a pack.
To no one’s surprise, the tobacco lobbying groups had a major role in the dramatic changes to the proposal. Leaked documents from Phillip Morris revealed there were over 200 meetings that took place, after the proposal was initially made, between the parliament and the lobbyists. It seems unfair then that these groups who hold so much influence can simply come in with their red pen and scratch out the parts they don’t like out and the parts that would severely affect their personal interests. Is there any way opponents of tobacco consumption can ever really be heard? The answer is yes, but in due time. The fact is, although, the legislation proposal was changed it still calls for restrictions in the tobacco product area. In eight years mentholated cigarettes cannot be bought or sold. That law alone is a huge step forward in the right direction. As time progresses and health studies continue to emphasize the laundry list of negative effects smoking can cause, the lobbyists may start to see a decrease in their influence. The number of those against tobacco products will only increase and as a result proposals like this will have a much larger backing. A point to ponder is will the United States ever follow suit?


  1. While the tobacco lobbyists certainly weakened the strength of the proposal for stricter tobacco legislation in the EU, it is still certainly a big step for tobacco oppositionists. The drop down from 75%-65% of carton coverage doesn’t seem to be too detrimental in that a majority of the box still emphasizes tobacco’s health risks and will lead the eyes. Additionally, it is unfortunate that it will take 8 years for mentholated cigarettes to be outlawed, but at least there is a time frame for its’ enactment. The same can’t be said for the United States, where there is no such destination. It is sad that the system can be manipulated so much by “big tobacco” but I think every generation becomes more and more health conscious, and science illuminates more and more light on the horrible effects of tobacco. Eventually I think healthier alternatives like E-cigarettes will reign, and while the proposal is a limited victory, a win is a win.

  2. I agree with Matthew’s point above, this limited victory is still a win and a step forward in the right direction. The cartoon coverage is very significant, regardless of the percentage, because it will deter people from smoking in the first place in fear of suffering from similar side effects as in the graphic warnings. I also believe that the European countries seem to be ahead of the US in a variety of areas and every trend that starts in Europe eventually migrates to the US. So I believe that the US will eventually follow in European footsteps and enact legislation to control the “tobacco” problem. Generations in this country are becoming more health conscious and the US following European footsteps in the near future is not far fetched.

  3. I stand behind graphic health warnings on cigarette packages to the fullest extent. It is important to educate the public as much as is possible. Once the public is educated, they have the ability to make decisions, good or bad, about their own bodies and health. With that being said, however, studies have shown, people who choose to smoke cigarettes can affect not only their health but the health of people around them, through second hand smoke. Another serious concern is young people getting their hands on and buying cigarettes before they are at an age where they are able to make informed decisions for themselves. An observation I noticed while studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland, during undergraduate school, is the escalated amount of students who smoked (Irish and other European ethnicities) in comparison to what I was used to seeing on the northeast coast of the United States. According to a poll conducted in 2006-2007, the European Union had one of the highest percentages of citizens who smoked, by region, at 28%. This legislation is a huge step in the right direction for the EU.


  4. I do believe the U.S. will eventually ban “tobacco” products, however, it will not be anytime soon. The more health conscious our country becomes, the better chance the U.S. will be able to successfully ban these products. I say this because if the ban would take place now, there will be many problems. One problem I can think of is a massive black market boom. If the U.S. waits until a time where “tobacco” use is at an all-time low, because of trying to be “healthy”, then it would limit the total amount of people who completely oppose such ban. The U.S. right now should just sit back and watch what results come from “tobacco” bans in Europe, therefore, they could see fix any flaws in Europe’s attempt.

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