Following enhanced scrutiny of the EU’s proposed revision of the Tobacco Products Directive, the House of Lords Home Affairs, Health and Education EU Sub-Committee has written to Anna Soubry MP, Public Health Minister, saying that it supports the aim of the revisions, particularly its focus on the protection of young people.
It has been over ten years since the European Commission adopted the Tobacco Products Directive and many advances have been made in science, marketing and other developments during this time. The revised proposal is looking at how new rules can be introduced – as well as strengthening those that already exist – for issues such as packaging, illegal trading of tobacco products, selling across Member State borders and new measures for products that have not been regulated so far, such as e-cigarettes and herbal products for smoking.
As part of this enhanced scrutiny, the Committee heard from Cancer Research UK and the Tobacco Manufacturers Association, as well as the Public Health Minister.
The Committee is asking the Government for further information in a number of areas:
- clarification of its position on how compatible the proposal is with the international treaty obligations of Member States and the EU;
- more detail on is intentions on the prohibition of certain tobacco products and the regulation of packaging and labelling; and
- further information on the present scale of the illicit tobacco trade in the UK and the effectiveness of EU and UK efforts in combating this.
In the letter, the Committee also comments on a number of other specific provisions:
- Subsidiarity: the Committee has chosen not to issue a Reasoned Opinion as it has concluded that the proposal has a “sound legal basis and does not fail to respect the principal of subsidiarity”;
- Delegated and implementing legislation: noting that concerns have been expressed by a number of other national parliaments across the EU about the powers awarded to the Commission under the proposal, the Committee believes that their concerns merit further scrutiny; and
- Non-tobacco nicotine containing products (NCPs): this includes e-cigarettes, and the Committee believes that although some regulation of NCPs is necessary, it should be based on the results of scientific research into the physiological effects of nicotine, whilst also considering the possible health benefits that NCPs can offer to smokers.
The Committee is expecting a response from the Government within the standard 10 days.