European Parliament approves larger health warnings on

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BRUSSELS--The European Parliament voted on June 14 to introduce obligatory health warnings on 35% of the front of all packets of cigarettes sold in theEuropean Union.

At present, the U.K., at 6%, demands the largeston-pack warnings. The parliamentarians went further than the25% called for by the European Commission's original draft

directive.

The vote was criticized by the tobacco industry forbeing excessive. "If it were 10% or 15% we wouldn't object,but this is in clear contradiction with the principle ofproportionality," says Wilfred Dembach, chairman of the Confederation ofEuropean Community Cigarette Manufacturers.

Mr. Dembach says that calling for such a prominenthealth warning on cigarette packs goes beyond the role ofsimply informing consumers. "If the health warning exceedsthe size required to inform the consumer, then it becomessomething other than a health warning." The purpose behind sucha large warning is "to deter or frighten the consumer,or simply to make the pack look less attractive," hesays.

The ruling on health warnings also calls for 45% ofthe rear of the packet to be covered with warnings.

A clear majority of the estimated 550 parliamentmembers present voted in favor of the amendment to increaseon-pack health warnings.

The draft tobacco directive will be put before EUHealth Ministers at a meeting in Brussels on June 29. It willthen return for a second reading in the European Parliament

in the autumn. The directive could be completed by theend of this year, after which each member state must writeit into its own statute books.

Copyright June 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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