EU May Restrict Cigarette Sales
BRUSSELS, Belgium â€“â€“ Seeking to do more to prevent people from starting to smoke, the European Union's head office proposed measures Monday to make it harder for children and teen-agers to buy cigarettes.
"It is a well known fact that if you haven't started smoking in your adolescence, you are not likely to pick up the habit at all," said EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne.
The new measures, he said, were intended to "counter the efforts of the tobacco industry," which he accused of aiming to recruit smokers among young people.
The proposals to be presented to health ministers on June 26 include preventing the sale of small packs of cigarettes, which are cheaper than the standard pack of 20 or 25; requiring vendors to check the cigarette buyer's age; and restricting access to vending machines.
All would have to be approved by EU governments.
Byrne has pledged to continue a drive to cut the number of smokers in the EU from the current ratio of around a third of adults to levels in the United States, where around one in five smoke.
The new proposals come as tight restrictions on tobacco advertising are implemented over the next few years.
Tobacco companies have also been forced to cut the level of tar and nicotine in cigarettes and increase the size of health warnings on packages.