WRITTEN QUESTION No. 3455/97 by Marjo MATIKAINEN-KALLSTRÖM to the Commission. Nicotine dependency caused by tobacco
OJ C 134, 30.4.1998, p. 167 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)
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WRITTEN QUESTION E-3455/97 by Marjo Matikainen-Kallström (PPE) to the Commission (31 October 1997)
Subject: Nicotine dependency caused by tobacco
The nicotine contained in tobacco products is a substance which acts upon the central nervous system creating a dependency comparable to that caused by, say, heroin or cocaine. The limits on toxicity levels of tobacco products have concentrated on the quantity of tar, but no common European limit value for nicotine has been set. At present the standards merely require the nicotine content of the product to be stated on the packet. This is a distortion of the situation, because it is precisely nicotine dependency which keeps tobacco consumption going.
What concrete measures, on what timescale, does the Commission intend to take to define the maximum nicotine content of tobacco products in Community law?
Answer given by Mr Flynn on behalf of the Commission (24 November 1997)
The Commission adopted a communication on smoking prevention on 18 December 1996 ((COM(96) 609 final. )). This identifies several policy options at Community level, including that nicotine addiction be considered as a dependency, thus allowing it to be tackled through the relevant Community public health programmes. It is furthermore suggested that a maximum level of nicotine in cigarettes could also be considered. As regards options for improving cooperation between Member States, the Commission's communication proposes the provision of smoking cessation medications (nicotine chewing gums, nicotine 'patches') at minimal or no cost to smokers.
The communication has been sent for the opinion of the Parliament. The Commission will examine the reactions to the text and in the light of this examination may bring forward appropriate proposals for actions and measures.