Bulgarian bill envisions graphic warnings on tobacco packaging starting 2017

Bulgaria’s Cabinet said on December 16 that it has finalised a bill of amendments to the country’s tobacco legislation, which envisions the introduction of graphic health warnings on cigarette packaging and a ban on flavourings in tobacco products, which will go into full effect in May 2017.

The bill will implement the European Union directive 2014/40/EU, adopted in April 2014, and would go into force on May 20 2016, but it also envisions a one-year transition period during which tobacco products made under the current regulatory framework can be sold, the government media service said in a statement.

Tobacco products’ packaging in Bulgaria already carries text warnings, but the latest EU regulations mandate an increase in the surface of packaging covered by the warning, as well as the introduction of colour photographs illustrating the impact of smoking on the human body.

The regulations also ban the sale of tobacco products that contain “a characterising flavour”, which is defined as “a clearly noticeable smell or taste other than one of tobacco, resulting from an additive or a combination of additives, including, but not limited to, fruit, spice, herbs, alcohol, candy, menthol or vanilla, which is noticeable before or during the consumption of the tobacco product.”

The ban specifically mentions additives that create the impression that a tobacco product has a health benefit or presents reduced health risks; caffeine or taurine or other additives that are associated with energy and vitality; as well as additives having colouring properties for emissions.

Additionally, the Bulgarian Cabinet’s bill will also implement the new EU regulations on electronic cigarettes.

Bulgaria has one of the highest tobacco consumption rates in the EU at 35 per cent, second only to Greece (38 per cent), compared to 26 per cent in the EU as a whole, according to a Eurobarometer survey published by the European Commission in May.

(Former EU health commissioner Tonio Borg shows a sample of a combined text and graphic warning on a cigarette package in December 2012. Photo: Roge Thierry/EC Audiovisual Service)



The Sofia Globe staff

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