EU hasn’t banned Menthol cigarettes despite claims

3:55 pm - June 21st 2013

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by Steve Hynd

Always eager to break a story, the blog Guido Fawkes ran with this headline: ‘EU Agrees Ban on Menthol Cigarettes‘ – today.

As this story breaks, I am sure that you will see comparable headlines cropping up in newspapers across the UK.

The problem is, the story isn’t really true. At best it is preemptive. The EU simply has not banned menthol cigarettes.

So what has happened? The Council of Ministers has met and voted to support a proposal to ban menthol cigarettes (although some Ministers such as the Polish Minister has opposed the move).

This proposal will not become law unless the European Parliament votes it through.

You might at this point think I am being a little bit over the top? A mere technicality you say!

But think of this another way. Would a UK publication run the headline, “British Parliament agrees ban on xxx” if in actual fact only the House of Lords (one third of the British Parliament) had actually voted on it? No, of course not, it would be wildly misleading.

So why the different approach for EU related affairs? The Council of Ministers makes up just one third of major EU institutions and yet publications run headlines claiming it represents the whole of the EU.

The difference is of course that most Brits don’t know what the Council of Ministers is, let alone what it does and so are incapable and unwilling to hold the papers and politicians to account.

PS – there is more info by Andy Carling here.

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Reader comments

Why menthol cigarettes specifically anyway, Is there a particular reason?

2. Churm Rincewind

OK, so technically speaking the EU has not banned menthol cigarettes. But it can’t be denied that the Council of Ministers really, really wants to see a ban in place. So although current reporting may be inexact, the gist of the situation is just as reported.

In answer to Cyclux, the reason provided is that menthol cigarettes appeal particularly to young people and therefore particularly encourage young people to smoke, though I’ve been unable to trace any evidence in suppport of this claim.

The gist of the situation? On the Irish news today it said they were banned. No proposal, banned. I thought it was final. Now I’m pleased to find it isn’t. I’m not even a regular smoker. I just like the odd pack of menthols once in a while (not even more than 2 times a year!) I’m tired of our governments fucking baby sitting us.

“Would a UK publication run the headline, “British Parliament agrees ban on xxx” if in actual fact only the House of Lords (one third of the British Parliament) had actually voted on it?”

Yes a UK newspaper would. It happens regularly. Many publications will write a story as if the law had actually changed, especially if it goes with their narrative. So the DM will say a law banning something immoral has happened even if it’s only a private members bill that manages to get to the top of the list whilst the Guardian will say the same thing when its only a cabinet member voicing support for the removal of some social benefit.

And as to this case. Yes, even though its only a proposal if you look into the context of any law by the EU with regards anything related to smoking then it will always, without fail, never to be changed, set in stone, happen.

The council of ministers is not comparable to the House of Lords. It is closer to the Cabinet. If the UK cabinet proposed something the headline would be “Government wants to ban xxx”.

@2 Cheers for that, I did wonder if it was going to be another evidence-free wheeze, particularly since Marlboro lights tend to be more popular with students than menthol cigs.

7. Derek Hattons Tailor

In other words it’s a white paper, it would be in the Queens speech in the UK. So it will happen, the only question is when.

8. Me Myself And I

Banning menthol tobacco is a mistake, Why are we always being controlled by this poor government. Why cant people smoke its there choice to smoke, I dont really think smoking is the real problem the government likes to blow things out of proportion. It is there job to make changes but this is not a good idea.Menthol tobacco is lighter in strength and tar than normal tobaccos also, menthol are actually better for you than normal tobaccos.I f I want to drink myself to death I can, but if i want to smoke myself to death with menthol cigs I cannot.Its a shame are choices are being manipulated by the beaurocrats.I might as well start smoking weed if they ban menthol cigs what a joke.

Still it gives UKIP their election slogan: Completely Menthol!

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