Page last updated at 11:41 GMT, Thursday, 20 September 2012 12:41 UK

Commission 'closely monitoring' Czech alcohol poisoning

The spokesman for the EU's Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner has insisted the Commission is closely monitoring the spate of alcohol poisoning in the Czech Republic that has left 19 people dead.

Speaking during the daily Commission briefing on 20 September 2012, Frédéric Vincent said the Commission was liaising with the Czech government on a daily basis.

The government in Prague recently banned the sale of all spirits containing more than 20% alcohol, following the poisonings that have been blamed on bootleg vodka and rum, and tainted with the industrial chemical methanol and sold cheaply at markets and outdoor kiosks.

Mr Vincent said he wanted the Czech government "to align domestic measures with exports" as soon as possible, meaning that if such spirits are banned in the Czech domestic market, the government should ensure they do not reach the export market.

He also used the briefing to confirm that the Commission would publish revisions to the 2001 Tobacco Products Directive "by the end of the year".

The directive introduced graphic health warnings on packets, and a ban on descriptors, such as "mild" or "low tar".

Health campaigners say they want the revisions to include new measures such as compulsory plain packaging, and a ban on cigarette vending machines.

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