The European Union is considering banning logos on cigarette packs as part of an upcoming review of its law to deter smoking, a spokesman said after Australia's highest court upheld a similar ban. The Australian court on 15 August dismissed a legal challenge to the government's ban, in a case filed by British American Tobacco, Britain's Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco.
The ruling means that starting in December, all cigarette packs sold in Australia will brandish plain olive packaging. The EU will publish a draft revision to its 2001 Tobacco Products Directive in the autumn, and may introduce more stringent rules on packaging as well as extend legislation to newer tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes. Among other measures, the new law, if adopted, would prohibit cigarette sales to anyone under 18.
"Many things are being discussed, including the possibility of plain packaging," Antonio Gravili, a spokesperson for the European Commission, told a news briefing on Thursday. Printing larger graphic images on cigarette packs of the diseases linked to smoking is another option, Gravili said.
The EU's 2001 Directive required all member states to ensure that cigarette packs carry text health warnings and in 2005 the Commission recommended a series of graphic images to illustrate health risks.
Most EU countries have since adopted these pictures. Once the directive's revision is completed, it will need the approval of the EU's 27 countries and over 700 members of the European Parliament before it can become law.
A 2008 European health interview survey showed that 32 per cent of men and 21 per cent of women in Malta are smokers. Of these, 72 per cent usually smoke 20 cigarettes a day, 20 per cent smoke between 20 and 40 and 2.5 per cent smoke more than 40 cigarettes a day.
The proportion of 15-year-olds who smoke in Malta is higher than that of countries such as Italy and England – 10 per cent of boys and 14 per cent of girls.
In 2010, 26 per cent of male and nine per cent of female deaths were attributed to lung cancer, which is closely related to cigarette smoking.
It's proven that those who start smoking earliest are those that have the hardest time quitting.