EU considers further steps towards a "smoke-free generation"
The European Commission wants to further curb tobacco use
CC – 06/2022
In addition to cigarettes,
smokers are increasingly turning to electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or
tobacco heaters. Against this backdrop, the European Commission is currently
examining measures to further reduce tobacco use in the population through a
consultation. This will take into account changes in consumption and products.
Novel tobacco and nicotine-containing products popular with young people
In its Beating Cancer Plan,
the European Commission has set itself the ambitious goal of creating a "smoke-free
generation". By 2040, less than five per cent of the population should be
using tobacco. Today, the proportion of smokers in the EU is around 25 per
cent. To achieve this goal, the EU is taking many steps to check tobacco
consumption. An intensification of efforts – including regulatory measures –
has often been announced, most recently by the European Commission on World No
Tobacco Day. In particular, the developments and consumption of novel products
are referred to in this context.
In addition to
e-cigarettes, these are mainly so-called tobacco heaters, also called
vaporisers, in which, instead of a combustion process, the tobacco is merely
heated in an electric device, thus enabling inhalation. The use of these
products, especially e-cigarettes and hookah tobacco, is increasing, especially
among young people. Even if intensive research efforts still need to be
undertaken, it can be stated that the consumption of e-cigarettes and the like
represents a health hazard and harbours potential addiction. The World Health
Organisation therefore considers e-cigarettes a health hazard and has called
for strict regulation to discourage use, especially among young people.
Review of the current legal framework for tobacco control
The comprehensive EU legal
framework for tobacco control includes the Tobacco Products Directive (Directive
2014/40/EU), the Tobacco Tax Directive (Directive
2011/64/EU), the Tobacco Advertising Directive (2003/33/EC),
the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (Directive
2010/13/EU), the Council Recommendations on smoke-free environments of 2009 (2009/C
296/02) as well as other policy packages.
and evaluation reports show that novel tobacco and nicotine-containing
products often "dodge regulations through the regulatory gaps". With
the rapid growth of new products, technologies and markets, a review of
existing legislation seems necessary. This is the only way to keep pace with
these changes legislatively. The EU has many regulatory options such as
introducing measures for product regulation, advertising, taxation, or adapting
Taxation and smoke-free environment
With regard to tax regulations, the European Commission is planning a
revision of the Tobacco Tax Directive. This comprises the EU regulations for
the taxation of tobacco products and sets minimum tax rates. There is a need
for harmonisation here with regard to novel tobacco products, as up to now the
EU Member States have applied different tax rates to novel products.
Among other things, an update of the European Council recommendations
for a smoke-free environment has also been announced. The 2009 Council
recommendation currently applies only to cigarettes and does not cover
e-cigarettes or other products, such as hookahs. An expansion of smoke-free
zones to outdoor areas will also be reviewed. The EU can make use of the still
existing regulatory leeway in certain indoor areas, such as cars.
The German Social Insurance (DSV) supports the EU’s intention to further
develop the legal framework to further reduce the use of tobacco. This forms an
important prerequisite on the basis of which the behaviour-related prevention
approaches of social insurance in Germany can only achieve full effectiveness.
It is important to note that the revision of the regulatory framework is not
only intended to reduce the attractiveness for minors and non-smokers, but also
for adult smokers through targeted measures. The DSV feedback can
be found here.