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?