Labour MEP says; 'We must put a stop to 570 new child smokers every day' as European Parliament votes to end gimmick tobacco products

08 October 2013

 The European Parliament’s has voted today in favour of a raft of proposals aimed at reducing the number of young smokers recruited by the tobacco industry each year.   Linda is leading for the European Parliament on the new proposals and was relieved at the outcome of the vote, but was disappointed that Tory MEPs ignored their own Government's advice, making a big difference in some key votes.   Over 700,000 people per year die in the European Union as a result of smoking and 70% of those started smoking before the age of 18.   Linda said; "Nearly 50% of smokers will die from a smoking related disease and tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable premature deaths across Europe. The vote today was positive but we could have gone much further with Conservative backing in addressing these staggering statistics.   "Nearly 14,000 children between the ages of 11-15 are regular smokers in my constituency alone and something has to be done to make smoking less attractive to the next generation."   The vote today gained agreement for graphic health warnings (front and back) which will cover 65% of cigarette packages across Europe, taking a big step towards plain packaging. Flavourings such as chocolate and strawberry that make cigarettes attractive to young smokers will also be taken off the market.   Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour's health spokesperson in the European Parliament, said:   "This is a product that kills one in two people that use it. There is only one reason tobacco companies produce chocolate and menthol cigarettes - and that is to lure children into taking up this lethal addiction.   "These changes will make smoking less attractive to young people, and stop many from smoking in the first place."     Notes     The proposals had included the suggestion that electronic cigarettes should be authorised in the same way as nicotine gums and patches to ensure they are manufactured to a high standard, and the chemicals involved are safe. However Parliament instead voted to regulate e-cigs in the same way as tobacco products.   Menthol which acts as a local anesthetic, suppressing the cough reflex and allowing smokers to inhale more deeply and more frequently will also be phased out but over a longer period.   Labour MEPs were particularly disappointed that there wasn't enough support for the European Commission's proposal to ban slim cigarettes which often come in lipstick-style packs with floral designs on the cigarettes themselves. Whilst the vote did promise to put an end to the attractive packaging, the slim cigarettes themselves will remain on the market.

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