Press Release

16 EU Health Ministers call for early agreement on the Tobacco Products Directive

In advance of a crucial vote in the European Parliament on whether to open negotiations with Council on the Tobacco Products Directive, Health Ministers from 16 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom) today called on MEPs to agree to start talks as soon as possible with a view to reaching agreement by the end of this year.

The Tobacco Products Directive is consistent with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to which all Member States are signatories. The Health Ministers noted that Tobacco remains the single largest cause of avoidable illness in the European Union causing the deaths of an estimated 700,000 EU citizens each year.

Ministers for Health are particularly concerned about the number of children and young people who continue to be attracted to tobacco products and who become addicted with lifelong consequences for their health and well being.

At a time of austerity in many parts of Europe Ministers are also conscious that treating patients with tobacco related illness is a massive but avoidable cost for public health systems.

Health Ministers adopted their position on the Directive at the EPSCO Council on 21 June 2013. The Council supports a strong Directive which will over time lead to a significant reduction in the number of smokers. The Council position foresees large mandatory text and picture health warnings covering 65% of the front and back of cigarette packs and the prohibition of tobacco products with a characterising flavour.

Ministers urged MEPs to take this opportunity to significantly improve the health of millions of EU citizens by working with Council and the European Commission for the early adoption of the Tobacco Products Directive.

Names of Ministers

Mr Alois Stöger , Federal Minister of Health, Austria

Ms Laurette Onkelinx, deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health, Belgium,

Dr Petros Petrides, Minister of Health, Cyprus.

Mr Taavi Rõivas, Minister of Social Affairs, Estonia

Dr James Reilly, Minister for Health, Ireland

Ms Susanna Huovinen, Minister of Health and Social Services, Finland

Mrs Marisol Touraine, Minister for Social Affairs and Health, France

Mr Spyridon- Adonis Georgiadis, Minister of Health, Greece

Dr Miklós Szócska, Minister of State for Health, Hungary

Ms Ingrîda Circene , Minister for Health, Latvia

Dr Godfrey Farrugia, Minister for Health, Malta

Mr Martin van Rijn, State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport, The Netherlands

Mr Tomaž Gantar, Minister of Health, Slovenia

Ms Ana Mato Adrover, Minister for Health, Social Services and Equality, Spain

Ms Maria Larsson, Minister for Children and the Elderly, Sweden

Ms Anna Soubry, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, United Kingdom