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EU rules dampen Danish government plan to ban future cigarette sales

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
EU rules dampen Danish government plan to ban future cigarette sales
Photo by Andres Siimon on Unsplash

A government proposal to curtail future cigarette sales by permanently banning anyone born after 2010 from buying them looks unlikely to be passed into law due to EU rules.

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The government last month unveiled plans to ensure that future generations are tobacco-free by banning the sale of cigarettes and other nicotine products to anyone born after 2010.

People under 18 are not legally allowed to purchase cigarettes under current Danish laws, so although the ban would not have an effect for six years, it would prevent people born after 2010 from ever buying cigarettes.

But the Danish plan now looks unlikely in its current form because EU member states may not forbid the sale of tobacco, according to a response given to a parliamentary question by the health minister, Magnus Heunicke.

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“It is based on this that the Ministry of Health concludes that a ban on sales of nicotine or tobacco products to persons born after 2010 or later would require a change to the (EU) tobacco directive,” Heunicke said.

The minister said in comments to news wire Ritzau that he had been aware of “legal obstacles” to the proposal at the time it was presented by the government.

“Of course we need a majority in parliament, but there’s also the tobacco directive,” he said.

“As the rules are now, we could introduce it and roll it out until 2035. But after that the tobacco directive would have to be changed for us to continue the rules,” he said.

At the time of its presentation, the government proposal was met with criticism because it could result in a future situation in which, for example, a 29-year-old would be banned from buying cigarettes while a 30-year-old could buy them, due to each individual’s year of birth.

Heunicke said he did not see that situation as a strong argument against the proposal.

“We have different age limits under current rules, some are 15 and 16 years and others are 17 and 18 years. We’d be able to manage it. The aim is that the 29-year-old would not want to buy cigarettes because the person in question has not become addicted,” he said.

The minister said the government had not given up hope of implementing the rule in future despite the limitations currently presented by EU rules.

“We fully recognise that there are both domestic politics and EU politics that must be change, but that’s why we’re in politics. It’s to change some rules,” he said.

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