Poland to challenge EU ban on menthol cigarettes

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Poland is to protest a European Union ban on flavored cigarettes, as the EU’s second largest cigarette producer and its prime tobacco consumer. New anti-smoking legislation is due to be implemented in 2016.

Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Janusz Piechocinski wants menthol cigarettes to be classified as a traditional product, thus earning exemption from the ban. One in five Polish cigarettes is menthol flavored, Reuters reported.

Ninety-nine percent of the Polish cigarette market is controlled by four firms: British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco International. Polish tobacco farms employ sixty thousand workers and is the world’s seventh largest manufacturer of cigarettes.

Poland’s tobacco industry supports the government’s appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union. The losses in tax revenue due to the ban may amount up to PLN 9 billion.

European Health Commissioner Tonio Borg claimed that 700,000 premature deaths and 14 fewer years of life on average for smokers are some of the disastrous effects of tobacco smoking in the EU. Polish health minister Bartosz Arłukowicz supported legislation to curb smoking.

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