THE European Union has agreed to ban menthol cigarettes and radically alter the packaging of so-called "slim" cigarettes as part of an overhaul of its tobacco rules.
The EU’s employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs council (EPSCO) signed off on prohibiting menthol cigarettes, and is to stop slim cigarettes being sold in packaging that may attract young people, particularly girls.
Instead, slims will have to be sold in traditional cigarette boxes. Something that is thought will make the less enticing to under 18s.
Chairing the meeting as part of the Irish presidency, health minister James Reilly said the Tobacco Directive was an "important step" in stamping out smoking.
"Some 700,000 people die in the EU from smoking diseases. It is one of the greatest preventable and avoidable causes of early death, costs related to smoking are estimated at €25bn a year.
"All from a product that is prettily packaged. The warnings on cigarette packaging is clear.
"We have to take every opportunity we can to make sure more people are not enslaved into this product.
"Today was an important step to letting people know what tobacco products contain and in stopping the next generation ever getting involved," he added.