Labour MEPs vote for health – while Tories back Big Tobacco

cigaretteLabour MEPs yesterday successfully voted for 75% of packaging on cigarette products to be covered in graphic warnings, and a ban on menthol and other flavourings, as well as slims and ‘lipstick packs’, which target young people.

Conservative MEPs, however, voted against these proposals, despite them being backed by the Tory government.

Glenis Willmott, Labour’s Health spokesperson in the European Parliament said:

“Tobacco is a product that kills one in two people that use it. It is still the leading cause of preventable premature deaths across Europe.

“Smoking is a huge public health issue and costs the National Health Service millions every year, but more important is the human cost of the misery caused by the consequences of tobacco use to thousands of patients and their families.

“More than 700,000 people a year die in the European Union as a result of smoking and 70% of those started smoking before the age of 18.

“The vote today in the European Parliament reflects a commitment to address these staggering statistics.

“The changes agreed today will make smoking less attractive to children and young people, and stop many from smoking in the first place.”

Slim cigarettes in lipstick-style packs – which have been heavily criticised by the world health organisation for targeting young women – and flavours such as chocolate and strawberry, that make cigarettes attractive to young smokers, will be banned.

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of tobacco control, said:

“We wholeheartedly back the move to remove flavouring from cigarettes. Making them taste like mint, chocolate, vanilla and cherry is designed to improve the taste of smoking and make it easier to inhale the toxic and carcinogenic tobacco fumes.

“We also welcome the decision on prominent pictorial health warnings which are proven to reduce the allure of tobacco marketing on packs and help increase quit rates.”

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