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The Tobacco Products Directive: Five years on

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The European Commission published its first report on the Tobacco Products Directive, five years after it became applicable in 2016. Following the introduction of this Directive, the EU has witnessed steady decreases in smoking rates and tobacco use. However, more efforts are needed, the report said, particularly enforcement at national level and better consideration of new market developments, such as novel tobacco products. 

With 27 per cent of all cancers attributed to its use, tobacco is the single largest avoidable health risk in the EU. Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, a key pillar of the European Health Union aims at creating a ‘Tobacco-free Generation’ by 2040. To reach this highly ambitious goal we need timely mobilisation of the whole available arsenal of tobacco control tools at all levels. 

The report identifies progress made and where there is still room for improvement. It finds that the EU legislation has enhanced tobacco control, contributed to protecting the health of EU citizens by providing member states with strong rules to address the use of tobacco products in the EU. 

The Directive has put in place comprehensive EU tobacco control policy rules, notably through enlarged combined health warnings, a track and trace system, a ban on characterising flavours, the creation of an ingredients database and the regulation of electronic cigarettes. It has also contributed to the improvement of public health through a decrease in tobacco consumption. The report also concludes that, due to market developments, there is scope for improvement in certain essential areas such as labelling, assessment of ingredients, cross-border distance sales and novel and emerging products. 

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