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Reforms to the Tobacco Act - consultation round through 28 September

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
8.9.2015 15.30
Press release 132/2015

The new Tobacco Act would bring mandatory text and picture warnings with the aim of reducing the attraction of tobacco. Cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco with characterising flavours would be prohibited. Electronic cigarettes containing nicotine, which meet strict quality and safety standards, would be brought onto the Finnish market by moving them from the domain of the Medicines Act to that of tobacco legislation. Furthermore, it will be easier in the future for housing companies to prohibit smoking on balconies. These are among the changes that are included in a draft for a new Tobacco Act, on which the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is requesting statements by 28 September.

The current Tobacco Act is from 1976. The reform is partly connected with the EU's Tobacco Products Directive, which must be implemented in the Member States by 20 May 2016. Some of the changes, meanwhile, would be based on Finland's own discretion and legislative needs.

Among other things, the Tobacco Products Directive requires the prohibition of cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco with characterising flavours. However, popular flavours, such as menthol, would not be banned until 2020, after an interim period. Mandatory warnings using text and pictures would cover 65 per cent of tobacco packaging.

The Tobacco Products Directive would bring electronic cigarettes containing nicotine to Finland. The same age limits would be set for the purchase of electronic cigarettes that apply to tobacco products. Their sale would be subject to licence, flavourings would not be allowed in them and their use would not be permitted in non-smoking areas, and they would not be allowed to be kept on display in retail sales.

Personal imports of tobacco products and nicotine liquids for electronic cigarettes from outside the EEA countries would be subject to the same 20-hour time limit that is in force for alcohol. This would mean that a person would have to be outside of Finland for at least 20 hours before being allowed to bring tobacco products into the country. Also prohibited would be internet sales and other remote sales of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.

The new Tobacco Act would enable housing companies to more easily restrict or prohibit smoking on balconies or in other outdoor areas of a dwelling, such as a terrace. This would require a statement from a health official according to which the smoke would cause harm. The same possibility would also apply to situations in which the nuisance caused by the smoke would spread from one dwelling to another through the structures of the building.

In addition to snus, sales and imports of all other kinds of smokeless tobacco products (chewing tobacco, nasal tobacco) would also be prohibited. The maximum amount of smokeless tobacco products that travellers would be allowed to import would be reduced from the present 1.5 kilos to 0.5 kilos.

Statements on the new Tobacco Act have been requested extensively from various parties for submission by 28 September 2015. A Government proposal for a new Tobacco Act is to be put forward toward the end of the year.

Further information

Lawyer Laura Terho, tel. +358 2951 63550, [email protected]

Ministerial Adviser Meri Paavola, tel. +358 2951 63343, [email protected]

Director Kari Paaso, tel. +358 2951 63340, [email protected]

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