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The ENVI Committee protected health of EU citizens, not interests of the tobacco industry

The ENVI Committee, the leading Committee responsible for the Tobacco Products Directive at the European Parliament, stood up to the strong tobacco lobby and sided with European citizens. In July, the members of the ENVI Committee endorsed amendments introducing the pictorial warnings covering 75% of the cigarette’s pack (both front and back), a ban on menthol cigarettes and slims, and a regulation of e-cigarettes as medicinal products (the summary of the vote here). EFA has been advocating for these amendments as they focus on features targeting young smokers and they will help put people off smoking before they even start. EFA has also endorsed the introduction of plain packaging; this, however, was rejected by the committee. Nevertheless, the vote in July set a great example for the plenary vote at the European Parliament taking place in September 2013. It is now crucial to bring the whole plenary around to support the strongest possible Tobacco Products Directive. EFA will thus continue with its advocacy activities to fight for the public health interests. The evidence is there and is growing. Tobacco is the most prevalent preventable cause of death, it kills one in two of its long-term users and it is a leading cause of many chronic diseases such as COPD. As the Irish Minister of Health James Reilly said, tobacco kills more people than it employs and we cannot put needs of tobacco industry ahead of human lives (check EFA’s position paper on tobacco here). After the proposal will have been voted by the plenary in September, the Parliament will have to reach an agreement with the EU Health Ministers. If they do not manage to agree on the legislation before the end of the year, its adoption might be put in danger as the European Parliament's elections are coming early next year. A failure to adopt the legislation now might put the whole political process back to the very beginning. More information on the directive here.  

Medical Devices Regulation – The vote is coming

The ENVI Committee of the European Parliament will be voting on the Medical Devices Regulation in autumn. This regulation is of a major concern for EFA as devices such as medical oxygen containers, inhalers or adrenaline auto-injectors are essential for millions of patients with allergies and respiratory diseases. Studies show that both asthma and COPD patients feel their inhaler device is an essential item that makes their lives significantly better. Safety and efficacy of such devices thus have to be fully guaranteed and further improved, because they increase life expectancy, quality of life and empower patients to better manage their disease. EFA considers patients' empowerment and ability to take active role in their own care a crucial point underpinning the whole proposal and calls upon Members of the ENVI Committee to support amendments enhancing patients' safety, patient's involvement and increased transparency. After all, patients are the ones using medical devices and taking risk in their daily lives (check EFA’s briefing on medical devices here). Empowered patients will be able to manage their diseases better and the regulation could be a starting point for a real patient-centred disease management. EFA will thus continue advocating for amendments that enhance patients' safety and guarantee they can make informed decisions, involve patients in decision-making and make information on medical devices and their manufacturing public and transparent. More information on the regulation here.