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European lawmakers approve new regulations on smoking

EU lawmakers on Tuesday approved sweeping new regulations [text] to curb smoking, including limits on electronic cigarettes, bigger warnings on cigarette packs and a ban on menthol, or any flavored cigarettes which could be considered "gimmicks." An EU press release [text] outlined the changes, which include graphic warnings that cover 65 percent of the packaging. Current warnings cover only 30 percent of the packaging. More than 700,000 people in the EU die from causes related to smoking each year, and this move is intended to curb the increase in smoking by young people. The legislation was passed in the face of much opposition from the tobacco industry [WP report]. The rules are predicted to go into effect in the next year, after compromises can be reached with the 28 member states of the EU. Turkey has already taken steps [JURIST report] towards imposing strict smoking regulations.

In the US there has been debate over the use of graphic warning labels. In August of last year a federal appeals court found that cigarette companies did not need to include graphic warning labels on their packaging. In March 2012 the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the graphic cigarette label warnings are constitutional. The court decided unanimously that the portions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) [HR 1256 text] designed to limit the tobacco industry's ability to advertise to children, including a ban on distributing clothing and goods with logos or brand names, as well as sponsorship of cultural, athletic and social events requiring cigarette packaging and advertisements, is a valid restriction of commercial speech. Earlier that month a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Food and Drug Administration regulation recommending warning labels is unconstitutional [JURIST report], issuing a permanent injunction.

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