EU Tobacco Products Directive close to final stages

The EU Tobacco Products Directive 2001/37/EC (TPD) is currently in the final stages of a review. On 18 December 2013, The European Commission, Parliament, and Council reached a compromise agreement, subject to a vote in Parliament and formal adoption by the Council in 2014.

The key points agreed are the following:

Graphic warnings

  • Combined health warning 65% of front and back of pack
  • Exemption for big boxes of cigars and cigarillos which can have smaller graphic warnings.


  • All flavours to be banned immediately on transposition for cigarettes and RYO tobacco.
  • Apart from menthol which is to be phased in and take effect from 2020 (compromise with Council)
  • Flavoured waterpipe tobacco still allowed - the Commission to do a study on use by young people.

Slim cigarettes

  • Slim cigarettes are still allowed on market (in line with EP and Council vote) but lipstick and perfume packs are not allowed.


  • Additives which are carcinogenic, mutogenic or reprotoxic in unburnt form will be prohibited.
  • Sugar to be specifically mentioned as being allowed in tobacco production.
  • All testing facilities of tobacco products to be fully independent of tobacco companies.


  • Snus remains on the market but only in Sweden.
  • Snus is exempt from flavourings ban and all other ingredients regulation. So no change in the rules governing snus - Sweden remains responsible for regulating the content.


  • Cigarette packs to be a cuboid shape and contain at least 20 cigarettes. Bevelled and rounded edges allowed.
  • Flexibility for smaller cigarette packages allowed (Portuguese soft packs) and for shoulder packs.
  • More flexibility on Roll-Your-Own (RYP) packages. Cylinders and stand-up pouches allowed. Must contain at least 30g tobacco.
  • Stickers with health warnings to be allowed on cigars and cigarillos (and pipe tobacco, smokeless tobacco, waterpipe tobacco, and RYO in cylindrical tins).
  • A ban on promotional discounts, coupons etc attached to the packets.

Cross border sales

  • Governments are free to ban them.

Electronic cigarettes

  • Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) will be regulated for the first time. But the Commission proposal that all e-cigs should be regulated as medicines has been rejected.
  • The agreement means that there will be two routes to putting e-cigarettes on the market in the EU: as a medicine or as a consumer product subject to the TPD. 
  • If companies choose to make a claim that their e-cigarette helps smokers quit, they will have to seek a medicines licence.
  • Otherwise, they can take the consumer route, but then they will be subject to:
    • quality and safety standards
    • a maximum nicotine strength of 20mg/ml
    • the same EU advertising bans as for tobacco
    • a pre-market notification system in line with novel tobacco products
    • a maximum size for cartridges and for refillable tanks (2 ml) as well as for e-liquid bottles (10 ml)
  • Requirement that e-cigarettes and e-liquid bottles are child and tamper-proof, are protected against breakage & leakage, and have a mechanism ensuring leakage-free refilling
  • Refillable e-cigarettes can stay on the market, and flavourings are permitted (though this is subject to national and not EU law)

Member States going further

Any country which wants to go further on packaging eg UK and Ireland on plain packing, will be able to do so