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EU parliament votes to approve smoking regulations

The EU Parliament [official website] on Wednesday voted to approve [press release] an anti-tobacco law that requires cigarette makers to increase the size of health warnings on packets from 30 percent to 65 percent of the surface of the package. The law also regulates electronic cigarettes for the first time. Electronic cigarettes will have to comply with packaging and advertising rules, and makers of e-cigarettes will also have to notify EU member state governments prior to introducing new products. Makers of e-cigarettes will also report annual sales volumes to their EU member state. EU lawmakers approved draft versions [JURIST report] of the new regulations in October. The warning labels will include graphic pictures and text and cover the front and back of the package. The law also bans smoking tobacco products with flavors, although the menthol flavor will not be phased out until 2020.

The EU is not the first to face the issue of graphic warning labels for cigarette packagining. In August 2012 the High Court of Australia [official website] upheld [JURIST report] a law that requires cigarette packages to display graphic images warning of the dangers of smoking and bans brand logos. In the US, there is debate over the constitutionality of graphic cigarette warning labels. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] graphic warnings in August 2012, holding that the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) [official website] rule on graphic cigarette label warnings exceeded the agency's statutory authority and undermined tobacco companies' economic autonomy. However, in March 2012 the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] upheld the constitutionality [opinion, PDF] of graphic cigarette warning labels, ruling that portions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) [HR 1256 text] is a valid restriction of commercial speech and also upheld the FDA's regulations requiring more prominent graphic health warning labels on packaging struck down in an earlier ruling.

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