EU Health Officials Against Tobacco
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- European Union health ministers today expressed support for a new plan to discourage smoking that calls for further cuts in tar and nicotine content and sterner warnings for consumers.
``We all have the moral obligation to chart action that must ... limit consequences of smoking on smoker's health,'' said Greek Health Minister Lambros Papadimas.
EU ministers reacted for the first time to a new proposal by EU Consumer Commissioner David Byrne on strengthening controls on the content and sale of tobacco. The ministers only discussed the proposal but did not take a vote on it as the plan is expected to be debated for months.
Under the proposal, EU-wide controls would see a further reduction in tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide per cigarette. Warnings on packages would be increased in size and include more direct phrases such as ``smoking kills'' or ``causes cancer.''
The ministers also agreed that priority should be given to dissuade youngsters from smoking. ``We need to combine strict legislation with education,'' said Lars Engqvist, the Swedish social affairs minister.
``It is important that we are not deterred by actions of the tobacco industry,'' British minister Gisela Stuart told the gathering. German Health Minister Andrea Fischer warned ``there will be significant economic interest resistance to this proposal and in the fight against smoking.''
Tobacco company Philip Morris said it was ``entirely appropriate that authorities should be examining reasonable measures to ensure that adults who choose to smoke are fully informed.''
``We have taken initiatives in many EU countries to limit youth access to cigarettes and to discourage youth smoking.'' David R. Davies of Philip Morris Europe SA said in a statement.
The EU approved a law last year that will see the phase-out of tobacco advertising by 2006. Under that directive, most tobacco advertising will be illegal within four years and cigarette makers will have until October 2006 to end sponsorship of major sports and cultural events.