Tobacco Act will be tightened – Government proposal to Parliament

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 25.2.2016 13.24
Press release 23/2016

Smoke-free lifestyles of young people, in particular, need to be supported. Therefore the new Tobacco Act would prohibit distinctive flavouring, such as vanilla and menthol, of cigarettes, rolling tobacco and electronic cigarettes. It would become easier for housing companies to prohibit smoking on balconies. Electronic cigarettes containing nicotine would be regulated by the same provisions as other cigarettes. These are among the changes included in the Government proposal for a new Tobacco Act that was submitted to Parliament on February 25.

The new Tobacco Act is due to come into force on 20 May 2016. Finland and the other EU countries shall enforce the EU Tobacco Products Directive on that day at the latest. Part of the proposed changes are based on Finland's own consideration and legislative needs.
 
The Tobacco Product Directive requires, among other things, that distinctive flavourings in cigarettes and rolling tobacco are prohibited. Popular flavours, such as menthol, would not be prohibited until 2020 after a transition period. In addition to warning texts, also visual warnings will be used on the labelling of tobacco packaging sold in Finland. Mandatory warnings using text and pictures would cover 65 per cent of tobacco packaging.
 
The same age limits would be set for the purchase of electronic cigarettes that apply to tobacco products. Their sales would be subject to licence and flavourings, such as the taste of candy or fruit, would not be allowed in them. The use of electronic cigarettes would be prohibited in non-smoking areas and they would not be allowed to be kept on display in retail sales.
 
Personal import of tobacco products and nicotine liquids for electronic cigarettes from outside the EEA countries would be subject to a 24-hour time limit. This means that a person would have to be outside of Finland for at least 24 hours before being allowed to bring these products into the country. Also prohibited would be internet sales and other remote sales of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.

Smoking on balconies could be restricted on the basis of smoke causing nuisance

The new Tobacco Act would allow housing companies to appeal to their municipality for prohibition of smoking on balconies or in other outdoor areas of a dwelling, such as a terrace. A municipal authority could prohibit smoking if structures of the building or other circumstances allow smoke to spread for example from a balcony to another. The spreading of tobacco smoke would be sufficient reason for imposing a prohibition and there would be no need to prove a health hazard, contrary to the current procedure based on the Health Protection Act. The same possibility to intervene would also apply to situations in which 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, powdered snuff) would also be prohibited.  The maximum amount of imported smoke-free tobacco products (snus, powdered snuff, chewing tobacco) would be set to one kilogram. Also a 24 hour limit would be set which means that a person could import one kilogram of smoke-free tobacco products within 24 hours.
 
The current Tobacco Act is from 1976 and tens of amendments have been made to it. The Tobacco Act reform aims to discourage people from starting to use tobacco products and becoming nicotine dependent, and also to support people to giving up the use tobacco products. The aim is also to protect non-smoking people from exposure to tobacco smoke.

Inquiries

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]