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Germany implements new anti-smoking rules

December 16, 2015

The government has approved a draft bill requiring tobacco packages to have photos meant to dissuade smokers. The new laws, which will be implemented next year, come amid concern in Germany over tobacco-related deaths.

Deutschland Bundeskabinett billigt Schockbilder auf Zigarettenpackungen
German tobacco firms have provided mock-ups of possible future designsImage: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Güttler

Following the draft bill's approval on Wednesday, tobacco products will soon come adorned with grotesque images like blackened lungs and rotten teeth, part of an effort to curb smoking in a country where tens of thousands of people die each year from tobacco-related deaths.

Such packaging is already commonplace in other countries, including Australia and the UK.

The rules, part of a European Union directive, must be implemented by May 20, 2016. Germany has been relatively reticent - often on constitutional and commercial grounds - to fully embrace the EU's policies designed to discourage smoking.

Germany and Bulgaria are the only EU countries where there are is no complete ban on tobacco advertising.

The draft bill stipulates that tobacco products will be required to have pictorial and written warnings covering at least 65 percent of the front and back of the packaging. German cigarette packets currently carry written warnings on either side - taking up around one-third of the surfaces' area - but no images

Measures target the young

New regulations for products like e-cigarettes will also be introduced, the first time since the products entered the market. Finally, flavored tobacco products, as well as all products containing menthol, will be completely banned starting on May 20, 2020.

The German Cigarette Association criticized the bill, saying its proposed measures, which are meant primarily to stop young people from smoking, are unncessary, since smoking rates among that demographic have already been declining.

Studies have shown that smoking has declined in younger Germans, though some 121,000 people still die every year from tobaco-related deaths in the country, according to a recent report from the German Cancer Research Center.

blc/msh (dpa, AFP)