Commission and industry discuss over the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive

On the request of tobacco industry representatives, members of the Health and Consumers Directorate General met in Brussels in December in order to discuss the ongoing revision of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). The revision of the current Directive, which dates from 2001, is a response to some scientific progress and international developments, as well as a response to the request from the Parliament and the Council.

In this meeting of tobacco industry representatives and representatives from the Commission, representatives of cigarette manufacturers stressed that they are not against regulation and a revision of the Tobacco Products Directive, if it improves the functioning of the internal market ensuring clarity and equal treatment. In the point of view of the industry, the current Tobacco Directive has turned out to be ineffective, in particular regarding the rules of labelling to reduce prevalence. Besides, as they put forward, the assumption that consumers are not aware of the danger of smoking might, in their view, be not accurate.

On its side, representatives from the Commission referred to the results shown by the public consultation on Tobacco Products Directive carried out in July 2011 which gathered an unprecedented number of responses. This consultation shown the high interest from citizens in the outcomes of such revision. Further to these results, the Commission explained that the same options of the TPD are under discussion, and the main topics for discussion focused on labelling and packaging and ingredients.

Regarding ingredients, although the industry welcomed a mandatory reporting on ingredients in a common format following the current Electronic Model Tobacco Control (EMTOC) model, they stressed that this issue should better be addressed from a smoke constituents approach. They also invited the Commission to take ownership of the system subject to trade secret protection and argued that product differentiation should still be possible. On packaging and labelling issues, at least one representative expressed no major concerns with the introduction of mandatory picture warnings, replacement of TNCO-levels and mandatory printing of cessation services. However, they stressed the importance for keeping appropriate space for trademarks and the possibility to place differentiated products in the market.

The Commission also informed that the Impact Assessment on the revision of the TPD is to be completed by the first quarter of 2012 and will take into account a wide range of issues such as economic, social, health and environmental aspects.