TPD: Tobacco Control Measures

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The revised EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) entered into force on 19 May 2014. On 20 May 2016 the new rules were transposed into national tobacco control legislation.1
This page provides a brief overview of the new rules under this Directive.

Health Warnings

  • Combined graphic and text health warnings have to 65% of the front, back and top of pack. This also applies to Roll Your Own (RYO) tobacco packs
  • 50% of the sides of the pack need to be covered with text health warnings (for example, “smoking kills- quit now”), replacing the printing of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels
  • Packaging for smokeless tobacco products is now required to display health warnings on the two largest surfaces of the pack. Specific rules apply for the placement and size of the warnings.
  • Member States have some discretion when it comes to labelling requirements for products that are used less frequently, such as pipe tobacco, smokeless tobacco, cigars and cigarillos
  • Any Member State that wants to require graphic warnings and labelling requirements beyond what is specified in the TPD can now do so (for example, some countries have introduced plain packaging legislation)


  • Mandatory reporting on ingredients is now required for all tobacco products through a standardised electronic format
  • Certain substances found in cigarettes and RYO products that are included in a ‘priority list’ require enhanced reporting obligations
  • Mandatory reporting of emission levels of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide for cigarettes are maintained, as well as reporting on other emissions levels if such data is available
  • Member states may require manufacturers to conduct studies on the effect of additives on health


  • Flavourings necessary for the manufacture of tobacco products, including sugar, can continue to be used
  • Flavourings in cigarettes and RYO tobacco products that give the product a ‘characterising’ flavour other than tobacco are banned (e.g. candy, alcohol, vanilla, fruit, spice, herbs)
  • An independent European advisory panel shall be established to assist Member States in making decisions about whether a particular additive gives tobacco a ‘characterising’ flavour
  • Menthol is considered a ‘characterising’ flavour and its use will be prohibited from 2020
  • Other tobacco products- such as smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, cigars and cigarillos- are exempted from the ban on characterising flavours, however this exemption will be lifted if sales volume and/or use among youth increases significantly


  • No change in legislation on snus. Snus sales remain illegal in all EU Member States except Sweden
  • Snus is exempt from the newly introduced flavourings ban and all other ingredient regulation

See Snus: EU Ban on Snus Sales to read more.


  • Cigarette packs to be a cuboid shape and contain at least 20 cigarettes per pack. RYO packs can have a cuboid or cylindrical shape and must contain a minimum volume of 30g tobacco
  • Slim, ‘lipstick’ style cigarette packs are no longer allowed
  • No promotional or misleading messages are allowed on the packs, including references to lifestyle benefits or suggestions that a particular product is less harmful than others

Cross-Border Sales

  • Cross border distance sales will not be banned at EU-level, but member states may choose to ban such sales
  • Retailers that want to sell tobacco products cross-border will have to notify the appropriate authorities before their first sale
  • Retailers are required to implement an electronic age-verification system to ensure that their products are not sold to children and youth
  • If Member States decide to ban cross-border sales, retailers may not supply consumers in that Member State


  • E-cigarettes will be regulated as consumer products unless the manufacturer chooses to make a claim that e-cigarettes help smokers quit, in which case they will be required to seek a medicinal licence
  • As a consumer product, e-cigarettes will be subject to:
  • A maximum nicotine strength of 20mg/ml, which has been shown to be adequate for the majority of smokers who use e-cigarettes as a substitute for smoking
  • Nicotine-liquid containers can be no larger than 10 ml for refillable e-cigarettes and 2 ml for disposable e-cigarettes
  • Cartridges, tanks and containers containing nicotine liquids are required to be child- and tamper-proof
  • Health warnings, instructions for use, a list of all ingredients, the specific product’s nicotine content, and information on addictiveness and toxicity are now required to be displayed on the packaging
  • All promotional elements on e-cigarette packs are banned
  • The same EU cross-border advertising restrictions that are required for tobacco products are now required for e-cigarettes
  • Manufacturers need to notify appropriate authorities before placing new products on the market, and also need to report to Member States on their products and sales figures on an annual basis. As there currently is little data available on the size and nature of the EU cigarette market, capturing this information will help authorities monitor this new market
  • Some decisions on e-cigarettes are left to the Member States to regulate as they deem appropriate, specifically any age limits, the regulation of flavours, and advertising without cross border effects

Illicit Trade

  • An EU-wide tracking and tracing system for the legal supply chain will be introduced
  • Visible and invisible security features (holograms) will also be required in order to help authorities better distinguish genuine and legal tobacco products from illicit products
  • This new system and these security features will be introduced in phases, with the highest priority being placed on the compliance of cigarettes and RYO products, followed by all other tobacco products

TobaccoTactics Resources

Relevant links

  • The full text of the 2014 TPD, can be accessed here.
  • The European Commission’s website explains the TPD measures in more detail and gives a briefing on the Commission’s development of more detailed rules to help member states implement the TPD.

TCRG Research

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