Press Release

Minister James Reilly welcomes the publication of a proposal for EU Directive on Tobacco.

The Minister for Health Dr James Reilly has welcomed the publication of a proposal for a new EU Tobacco Products Directive, the ultimate purpose of which is to reduce the numbers of people smoking.

Smoking is one of the greatest threats to people’s health – tobacco continues to be the most significant cause of premature death in the EU ­- and Minister Reilly intends to use the Irish Presidency of the EU to vigorously pursue measures to reduce the prevalence of smoking.

The publication of the proposal for a new EU Tobacco Products Directive has been preceded by a European wide consultation with over 80 thousand contributions and Minister Reilly intends to try and make significant progress in reaching agreement on a new Tobacco Products Directive during the 6 months Irish Presidency.

“The damage done to people’s health by smoking is a great tragedy” said Minister Reilly “The fact that the tobacco industry tries to promote smoking, recruiting new addicts with every new generation, is a blight on society. There is little doubt that if this product had just been discovered – knowing what we know about it today – it would not be legalised. But such is the power of the industry that international cooperation is required to successfully tackle the problems involved. I intend to push for that cooperation at every opportunity.”

It has been more than 10 years since the Tobacco Products Directive was adopted in 2001.  The European Commission recognised that given the market, scientific and international developments during that period it was necessary to revisit the Tobacco Directive and update it.

The proposal seeks to regulate tobacco products in a way that reflects their specific characteristics (nicotine has addictive properties) and the negative consequences of their consumption (throat and lung cancer, cardiovascular problems etc).

The Department of Health wishes to have as many views as possible from stakeholders with an interest in this issue and is undertaking a public consultation in this regard.


(Note the full title of the proposal is: – Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products)

Areas covered by the new proposal include the following:

  • Ingredients and emissions
  • Labelling and packaging
  • Traceability and security features
  • Nicotine containing products
  • Cross border distance sales of tobacco

Specifically the draft Directive provides for standardised cigarette packs, larger health warnings on packs, a total ban on flavouring such as menthol and a ban on tobacco for oral use. The proposal aims to ensure that provisions in the Directive are not circumvented by placing products on the market which are not compliant with the Directives.

The proposal will now be put to the European Member States for their consideration.  As this process will begin during Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union Ireland will play a key role in facilitating agreement with the Member States.