THE EUROPEAN Parliament has voted in favour of increasing the size of health warnings on tobacco packaging to allow them cover 65pc of the box.
The MEPs, who were subjected to intense lobbying by the tobacco industry, also voted in favour of banning menthol cigarettes – although they have been given a stay until 2022.
However, they decided not to ban slim cigarettes which are widely used by women smokers and they also rejected calls to have e-cigarettes, which contain nicotine but no cancer- causing chemicals, licensed.
ASH Ireland welcomed the moves which it said supported the majority of the proposals contained within the Tobacco Products Directive.
"We particularly welcome the fact that the Directive will now increase the size of graphic warnings to 65pc to cover both sides and top of cigarette packs," a spokesman said.
"We are particularly pleased that the Minister for Health, James Reilly, has followed the Australian model and commenced the process of introducing plain packaging on all tobacco packs."
A spokesman said the ban on menthol cigarettes was also to be welcomed, despite the nine-year delay attached to this measure.
* OUTSPOKEN TD Michael Healy-Rae has reacted furiously to HSE proposals to make a hospital a tobacco free zone.
The Independent TD for Kerry South said it is "totally ridiculous" to expect patients to walk out to a main road if they want to enjoy a cigarette.
The HSE South confirmed yesterday that smoking will be banned on the entire Kerry General Hospital campus from January next year.
But Mr Healy-Rae said it was unreasonable that people who might want to smoke in their vehicles in the hospital car parks will be unable to do so.