Bulgarian MPs pass bill introducing graphic tobacco packaging

Bulgarian MPs pass bill introducing graphic tobacco packaging

Sofia, March 25, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe

Bulgarian Parliament passed at second reading the amendments to the Tobacco Act, which envision the introduction of graphic health warnings on cigarette packaging and a ban on flavourings in tobacco products.

The amendments implement the European Union directive 2014/40/EU, adopted in April 2014, and would go into force on May 20 2016, but the amended law also envisions a one-year transition period during which tobacco products made under the current regulatory framework can be sold, meaning that the full effect of the new regulations is delayed to May 2017.

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 EU 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.

The amendments to the Tobacco Act 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 2015.