* EU Parliament health committee votes on tobacco rule
* Vote favours larger health warnings, no plain packs
* Full parliament to vote later this year
By Claire Davenport
BRUSSELS, July 10 Cigarette packs should carry
stark health warnings but the EU does not have to adopt the
plain wrappers favoured by Australia and, more recently,
Ireland, an EU committee said on Wednesday.
The EU's executive, the European Commission, wants to make
smoking less attractive to young people who it feels are
susceptible to the allure of colourful cigarette packets and
The European Parliament's health committee backed the
Commission's proposals for much larger health warnings on
packets than at present, but stopped short of a mandatory ban on
tobacco company branding as in Australia, which some lawmakers
"The important thing is to turn young people off smoking. We
do not need plain packaging to do that," Karl Heinz Florenz, a
German centre-right member of the committee said.
The committee supported the Commission's proposals that
those EU countries that want to impose so-called plain packaging
- such as Ireland - should be free to do so.
In May, Ireland became the first European country to agree a
ban on all company branding in favour of uniform colours and
labelling, following the example set by Australia.
The lawmakers said graphic pictorial and written health
warnings should cover 75 percent of the front and back of
cigarette packets. Companies may fill the remainder of the pack
with their logo.
However the size of the warnings could still be reduced
before the rules are jointly finalised by EU countries and the
Last month, a majority of EU member states agreed that the
warnings should cover just 65 percent of packets, while some
members parliament have called for warnings as small as 50
percent. Florenz predicts that the parliament and governments
will eventually settle for a compromise of 60 percent.
The committee also backed a ban on distinctive flavourings
such as menthol, which most EU countries support. But
governments oppose another Commission proposal backed by the
committee to ban slim cigarettes, popular among female smokers.
A vote by the full European parliament is expected before
the end of this year, and the rules could be finalised during
the first half of next year.
(Editing by Charlie Dunmore and Michael Roddy)