MEPs Vote on Tough New Cigarette Warnings
STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - Cigarette makers will be forced to increase the size of health warnings on packets and stop using descriptions such as ``mild,'' ``lights'' and ``low tar'' under draft European Union laws to be voted on by the European Parli
Proposals from EU Health Commissioner David Byrne, which call for lower limits for tar and nicotine content, face more than 100 amendments from MEPs including one calling for graphic images of diseased lungs to cover nearly half the packet.
Although the parliament has a strong influence over the new draft rules, its votes are non-binding. Not all the amendments will be passed and ultimately the final say rests with EU member state governments.
``If the size of the health warning directly reflected the risk to health, the label would cover the whole pack. Half of all long-term smokers will eventually be killed by tobacco and of these, half will die during middle age,'' Labor MEP Catherine Stihler said.
The vote Wednesday has attracted intense lobbying by the tobacco industry, which is particularly concerned over the plan to extend tar and nicotine limits to exports.
``They are using every trick in the book to put a stop to these new rules,'' Stihler said.
``Europe's consumers have been sold the idea that ``light,'' ''mild'' and ``low tar'' are healthier -- but they have been taken for a ride. Low tar cigarettes inflict the same damage as conventional cigarettes -- smokers just draw harder to get the same kick.''