The Court found the Directive to be valid, and the standardisation of packaging, ban on menthol cigarettes, and special rules for e-cigarettes to be lawful. This important ruling confirmed, once again, a fundamental principle enshrined in the Treaty whereby a high level of health protection must be taken as the basis for EU law, and that the health of our citizens prevails over the profit that is made from a product that kills people.
And as of 20 May, the Tobacco Products Directive is applicable across the European Union. This is a milestone. This Directive announces a new era for tobacco control in Europe with some of the most ambitious tobacco control measures in the world:
I heartily congratulate the countries that have already transposed this important directive into national law, and encourage an effective enforcement of the new rules in all Member States without delay.
Also during May, several Member States declared their intention to go even further than the directive and introduce plain packaging. To date, a total of five EU countries have declared this ambition. In the United Kingdom, mandatory plain packaging actually entered into law on 20 May after the national high court rejected an attempt by the tobacco industry to prevent it from going through.
There have also been very positive developments in other European countries over recent years, including complete bans on smoking in enclosed public places, bans on smoking in cars with children and the introduction of high taxes on tobacco products so that young people are discouraged from buying them. Ireland, for example, recently announced their "Tobacco Free Ireland" initiative with its aim to move towards a tobacco free society by 2025.
I am very pleased to have so many EU success stories to highlight on this year's World No Tobacco Day. The ambitious steps that I have outlined above have been game-changers for tobacco control policy in the EU, and I am fully committed to building on this powerful drive towards greater public health protection in the EU.
EU tobacco products: