Page last updated at 12:39 GMT, Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Statement on tobacco laws

Health Commissioner Tonio Borg has announced new laws on the sale and advertising of tobacco products, including a ban on the use of menthol cigarettes and tougher laws on health warnings.

Presenting revisions to the tobacco directive on 19 December 2012, Commissioner Borg said that there will be a requirement for 75% of the front and rear of packets to be covered by pictorial and text warnings.

He said that 700,000 people across the EU die prematurely from tobacco every year, and that €25bn was spent each year on preventing and treating smoking diseases.

"A city the size of Frankfurt is wiped off the map every year due to tobacco-related deaths," he said.

He said tobacco flavourings should be banned so that tobacco products "look, taste and smell like tobacco".

Despite concerns from the tobacco industry, Mr Borg insisted his proposals were "balanced, reasonable and ambitious".

The revision of the existing laws - which date from 2000 - was put into doubt earlier this year following the resignation of former Health Commissioner John Dalli over claims a business associate had tried to influence the scope of the revisions.

Mr Dalli has always denied the accusations.

The draft revisions will now go to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers for scrutiny, amendments and approval or rejection.

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