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The BBC's Angus Roxburgh
"The tobacco lobby has reacted with dismay"
 real 28k

Dr Murray Kaiserman of the Canadian Health Dept
discusses the effects of a similar programme in Canada with Mark O'Neill from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
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Tuesday, 15 May, 2001, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Europe strikes at smoking
Smoking can damage teeth and gums
Images would warn smokers of a variety of health risks

The European Parliament has given final approval to tough new anti-smoking laws which will force tobacco manufacturers throughout the EU to print large health warnings on all cigarette packs.

New packets
Health warnings covering at least 30-40% of surface
Photos showing stained teeth, diseased lungs
Full list of ingredients
Ban on terms like mild and light tar"
Must contain cigarettes with reduced levels of tar and nicotine

The legislation also reduces tar levels and outlaws terms such as "mild", or "light", which suggest one brand is less harmful than another.

When the new rules come into force in September next year smokers throughout the EU will be given a shocking warning of the health risks every time they pick up a pack of cigarettes.

Stark warning

A third of the pack will be devoted to a stark black and white warning such as: "Smoking Kills", compared to minimum warnings of just four percent of the pack in the EU at present.

National governments are also given the option of obliging manufacturers to include shocking colour pictures of the health effects of smoking, such as rotting teeth and blackened lungs.

The days of glamorous cigarette packs with obscure health warnings are over

Catherine Stihler
The law bans the use of terms which can mislead consumers into thinking cigarettes are safe.

It also reduces maximum tar levels from 12 to 10 milligrammes per cigarette.

Many MEPs are delighted.

Significant blow

Labour's health spokesman at the Parliament, Catherine Stihler, said the legislation dealt a significant blow to the tobacco industry.

The days of glamorous cigarette packs with obscure health warnings are over, she said.

Clive Bates, director of the anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), said: "This is another important turn of the screw on the tobacco manufacturers and smoking.

"The new warnings will be much more in your face than before, and they start to give a realistic and disturbing communication of the range of gruesome risks involved in smoking.

"Everybody knows that smoking is dangerous, but hardly anyone can tell you how dangerous or name many of the twenty or so fatal conditions associated with smoking and the new warnings put the message over much more forcefully and with better information."

The tobacco industry has reacted with dismay to the new rules.

This kind of graphic description should not have a role in a sophisticated society. It's a rather tasteless, worthless exercise.

Tobacco Manufacturer's Association spokesman John Carlisle
Britain's Tobacco Manufacturer's Association spokesman John Carlisle said the ban on the manufacture of cigarettes with more than 10 milligrams of tar will have a devastating impact on European exports to Asia, Australia and Africa, where consumers want stronger cigarettes.

He said 8,000 jobs in the EU will be at risk.

Mr Carlisle also dismissed the proposed use photographs in health warnings and said "We think this is just a gimmick.

"This kind of graphic description should not have a role in a sophisticated society. It's a rather tasteless, worthless exercise."

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06 Dec 00 | Health
Tobacco ad ban back on agenda
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