The Finnish government has stated that it supports an EU proposal to ban flavored tobacco products such as menthol cigarettes. EU health ministers approved the proposal, which will now be negotiated by the European Parliament.
Finnish Minister of Health and Social Services Susanna Huovinen said that menthol cigarettes are extremely popular in Finland and research has proven that they lower the threshold for children to start smoking. Around 70 per cent of smokers begin before reaching 18.
A quarter of cigarettes sold in the Scandinavian country are menthol. The new ban, which is not likely to come into force for another year, would also prohibit the sale of flavored snuff.
Health ministers in the EU agreed to ease tougher restrictions on tobacco that were initially planned to appease opposition from some governments. However, the new blueprint was decided even though the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria were against them.
The ministers rejected the European Commission’s proposal to ban slim cigarettes, but advised that they use normal-sized packets so that their appeal is reduced. They also supported plans for bigger health warnings to be displayed on cigarette packs.
The EU estimates that of the 500 million citizens living in its member states, 28 per cent smoke. It states that 700,000 people die each year in the bloc because of smoking. It also revealed that 25bn euros is spent annually to treat smoking-related illnesses.