Still no timeline for the revision of EU tobacco framework, Commission says

The European Commission is still not able to provide a timeline for the revision of EU regulations on tobacco products, a Commission spokesperson told TobaccoIntelligence.

As the revision process of the EU tobacco policy framework keeps being delayed, with the European Parliament waiting to be able to vote on a new draft for the main tobacco directives, commissioners are still not able to come up with a timeline, or even a date for the submission of the new texts.

“The Commission continues its efforts to reduce tobacco consumption in line with the target set in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan to create a tobacco-free generation in Europe, where less than 5% of the population smokes tobacco by 2040,” the spokesperson said.

“In this context, the Commission is currently running an overarching evaluation of the legislative framework for tobacco control, which includes the Tobacco Products Directive 2014/40/EU (TPD), the Tobacco Advertising Directive 2003/33/EC (TAD) and other related tobacco control policies across the EU,” said the spokesperson.


Uncertainty breeds frustration


With no certainty provided over dates, it is impossible to predict when the European Parliament will be able to start a debate over the revision of the EU tobacco policy framework.

“No further details can be provided on the timeline for the next steps at this stage,” the Commission spokesperson said.

General frustration over the continued delays in the revision process was fuelled in October by the publication of the Commission work programme for next year, which did not include any mentions of the tobacco framework revision.

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    For over a year, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have been preparing for what they anticipated as an imminent heated debate over the revision of the TPD and TAD, which constitute the basis of the EU tobacco policy, as well as of the Tobacco Excise Directive (TED).

    Some MEPs who spoke with TobaccoIntelligence said they were prepared to fight conservative approaches to novel nicotine products that may be counterproductive for harm reduction.

    This was before the Commission closed the public consultation on the EU tobacco control framework in May, which represented the last step in the process before it could draft and adopt a revised text.


    Guesswork as a basis for a framework?


    Despite that, no draft has been submitted to date, and MEPs are unable to predict when they will be able to start a discussion. One of them told TobaccoIntelligence that they had “no information” on the matter. Another one said they had “no indication regarding the timing”.

    This uncertainty fuelled speculation early in the year that the Commission may be trying to bypass MEPs’ scrutiny to push through some conservative policies on novel tobacco products at the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which was originally scheduled for last month in Panama.

    Some industry members feared that the Commission delegation to the conference, now postponed to next year, would present those positions as officially attributable to the EU without the European Parliament being able to vote on them.

    At the same time, member states are revising their tobacco control laws based on what they guess will be the positions reflected by the new EU legislative framework with no indication on where the debate will lead.

    – Tiziana Cauli TobaccoIntelligence staff

    Tiziana Cauli

    Senior reporter/health & science editor
    Tiziana is an Italian journalist from Sardinia. She has worked for both international and local media in Italy, South Africa, France, Spain, the UK, Lebanon and Belgium. She also worked as a communications manager for several international NGOs in the humanitarian sector. Tiziana holds a degree in Political Science and a PhD in African Studies from the University of Cagliari and she’s a graduate of the Carlo De Martino school of journalism in Milan.

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