Unprecedented number of responses to the consultation on the Tobacco Products Directive

85,000 responses were received to the public consultation on the upcoming revision of the Tobacco Products Directive. The outcome shows that contributions varied significantly. For example, those in favour of mandatory pictorial health warnings stressed that these measures would significantly weaken the advertising effects of the packaging. Opponents, on the other hand, raised legal concerns arguing that these measures would have little or no impact on the uptake of smoking.

The public consultation on the upcoming revision of the Tobacco Products Directive generated an unprecedented 85,000 responses. Most of contributions came from individual citizens, illustrating the great interest in EU tobacco control policy according to the Commission. Other respondents represented industry, non-governmental organisations, governments and public authorities.

In particular, the Commission asked on the consultation for opinion on a number of policy options such as mandatory pictorial health warnings – or graphic images - on packs of tobacco; plain or generic packaging; regulating harmful and attractive substances in tobacco products; and restricting or banning the sale of tobacco products over the internet and from vending machines.

The contributions, according to the Commission, were very varied. For example, those in favour of regulating ingredients said that restricting certain additives alongside sweet, fruity, floral, and candy flavours could prevent young people from taking up smoking and would facilitate intra-EU trade by bringing into line existing national regulations on ingredients. Opponents argued that regulating ingredients and additives would do little to prevent young people from taking up smoking and could discriminate against certain varieties and brands of tobacco.

The results of this consultation will be taken into account in the ongoing impact assessment which addresses the economic, social and health impacts as well as the l feasibility of various policy options. The outcome of the impact assessment will be presented together with a legislative proposal due next year.