East Midlands MEP Glenis Willmott has joined forces with MEPs from Germany, Sweden and Bulgaria, representing a range of political parties, to organise the event in the European Parliament. The conference will examine the issues of pictorial health warnings and standardised packaging for tobacco products, and will include speakers from Australia, France, Canada and the USA.
Glenis, Leader of Labour’s Euro MPs and public health spokesperson, said: “Tobacco is the biggest cause of preventable deaths globally, it kills one in ten people worldwide and half of all smokers will be killed by it. The damage it causes costs EU countries 100 billion euro a year.
“We have to get on with changing our laws to help people quit and stop young people from smoking in the first place.
“Research by the British Heart Foundation shows that nearly 90% of young people think plain cigarette packs are less attractive than the colourful, heavily branded packets that are currently available. If we are serious about stopping young people from smoking in the first place, we should be introducing plain packs as soon as possible.
“After a long delay, proposals from the European Commission for the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive will be published this spring.
“This directive regulates how cigarettes and other forms of tobacco can be packaged, and what can be put inside them.
“There’s been extreme pressure from the pro-tobacco lobby on the European Commission to fight any new plans to reduce advertising on cigarette packets, and that pressure will now no doubt be brought to bear on MEPs.
“I’ve been working with a huge range of health and consumer groups, including the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK, to promote policies which will actually reduce the amount of tobacco we use in the UK and across Europe, and I’m absolutely convinced that we must have standardised packaging for tobacco products.