Cigarette packets to have larger health warnings

The European Union (EU) plan to introduce legislation prohibiting the sale of flavoured cigarettes, such as menthol. The EU wants to also make it mandatory for cigarette manufacturers to cover at least 75% of a packet of cigarettes with various health warnings for consumers. The aims will be the latest effort to discourage young people from starting smoking by making them more aware of the damage they are doing to their health, in addition to saving billions of pounds in the long-term with reduced diseases and hospital visits as a result of smoking-induced health conditions. Fortunately for older smokers, they will still be able to carry on enjoying flavoured pipe tobacco.

The proposed rules though do not go quite as far as those that came into play earlier this month in Australia, whereby all packets now have to be sold in plain packaging and carry graphic health warnings. However, governments in Britain and other countries will be given the go-ahead to enforce a similar policy should they wish.

The Changes will likely enrage tobacco companies who have already witness a sharp declined in cigarette sales in recent years and will fear that the stricter rules will hit their profits even more so and also effect markets in Asia and Africa.

Cigarette sales in the 27-nation EU bloc have decreased quite a lot over the last few years as more people are starting to realise the damages to health that smoking can do, and that it is just not worth it. Just some of the problems directly related to smoking include:

. Smoking accounts for 71% of all lung cancer deaths.

Smoking has been proven to be directly responsible for many types of cancer including: throat, lung, kidney, bladder, stomach, liver and cervix.

. Smokers are twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack in comparison to their non-smoking counterparts.

. Scientists say that the average smoker will lose 14 years of their life because of smoking.

. Sugar approximates to about 20% of a cigarette and many diabetics are unaware of this fact.

. Smoking not only increases the risk of a man being impotent, but it also damages sperm.

. Smokers who are also taking the contraceptive pill are about 20 times more likely to have a heart attack than someone who doesn’t smoke.

. Smokers are twice as likely to develop psoriasis as a non-smoker. Psoriasis is a common skin problem that results in patches of inflamed skin.

. Nicotine slows down your body’s ability to heal itself by dehydrating your skin.

Draft legislation for the proposed changes state: “Each unit packet shall carry combined health warnings (picture plus text). The combined warnings shall cover 75 per cent of the external area of both the front and back surface of the packet. However, a member state may maintain more stringent national provisions on grounds of overriding needs relating to the protection of public health.”

It is expected that cigarette companies will not go down without a fight though and already some have criticised the EU’s plans, arguing that graphic pictures showing the shocking effects of smoking will harm famous long-standing brands.

In fact, Reemtsma, the German subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco, has already hit out at the EU, blasting that the larger-scale warnings do not include new information for consumers and long established trademarks will be destroyed.

A spokesman for Reemtsma said: “Under the German constitution this is a major breach of our property rights and trademarks. It will not stop with tobacco, it will move on to alcohol and sweets. Anyone who can read knows the implied risks of smoking and existing health warnings are very clear. This is a step to a health dictatorship. Is that the future we want?”

Medical Specialists Pharmacy support the EU changes and we have reported on countless studies that have shown the awful detrimental impact that smoking just one cigarette each day can do to the body. This is summed up with the response from a European Commission spokesman in relation to the concerns about the legislation. The spokesman said: “We are aware of the concerns. Everything has been double-checked for the legal position and we can do it. Let’s not forget that 700,000 people die every year because of smoking.”

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