Slovenia passes law enforcing plain tobacco packaging from 2020

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia’s parliament on Wednesday passed a law imposing plain tobacco packaging from 2020 and clamping down on tobacco advertising in an attempt to reduce smoking in the country.

Almost a quarter of Slovenians between the age of 15 and 64 smoke. The European Union member has 2 million citizens.

“Every day, 10 people in Slovenia die on account of smoking and we lose as much as 5 percent of gross domestic product or 1.8 billion euros on account of it,” Health Minister Milojka Kolar Celarc said.

The law, which was passed by 61 votes for and no vote against, will also prohibit advertising of tobacco products and showing those products on television shows and at public events aimed at under-18s.

“Smoking killed more people than both world wars yet it is still being shown to people under age as something that is quite ordinary and socially acceptable,” Celarc said, adding Slovenia aimed to become a country where smokers will represent less than 5 percent of the population.

Despite protests from the tobacco industry, countries including Britain and Australia have already enforced plain tobacco packaging.

Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Alison Williams