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    EU refuses Belgium to outlaw menthol cigarettes

    © Belga
    © Belga

    The Belgian Minister of Public Health Maggie de Block (Open Vld) wants to ban menthol tobacco before the European 2020 deadline but is confronted with European Commission threats to take Belgium to court should it persist, reports L’Echo Thursday. In 2014, the EU decided to forbid tobacco “containing a specific unmistakable aroma,’’ except when the sales volume in a given product category at the Union’s level represents 3% or more. In that case, the banning will only be valid as of 20 May 2020.

    The Minister of Public Health prepared a royal decree draft, transposing the European directive into Belgian law, but without taking into consideration the exemption granted to menthol tobacco. “Protection of health, especially for young people, justifies the application of this measure at the earliest,’’ believes Mrs. De Block.

    Unexpectedly, the European Commission still sent the Belgian government a warning, threatening to take things to the EU Court of Justice should it not change its mind. European administration reminds that the directive text indicates that the banning of flavored tobacco “should extend over a long period to allow consumers enough time to switch to other products.’’

    The European Commission now expects information on Belgium’s intentions, but the De Block cabinet confirms its determination to ban menthol before the European 2020 deadline, all while examining the Commission’s warning.

    European Administration’s procedure has already delayed the law’s adoption by six months.

    Maria Novak
    The Brussels Times