Displaying tobacco products in shops, commercial cigarette ads, promotions and free distribution of samples of tobacco products, as well as event sponsorship by tobacco companies could be banned in Romania if a draft law submitted on June 5 to the Parliament is voted and comes into force.
The bill was drafted by three MPs of the opposition party Save Romania Union (USR), namely Emanuel Ungureanu, Tudor Pop and Adrian Wiener, according to a press release.
“This complex initiative has a well defined role, namely the adaptation of Romanian legislation to the huge offensive of the tobacco industry, which has disastrous consequences on health. Children and teenagers are among the most vulnerable to a wave of sophisticated ads that promote the consumption of tobacco poison or other products in the toxic mixture of different products,” said Emanuel Ungureanu, who is also vice-chairmen of the Chamber of Deputies’ Health Committee.
The USR MPs say in the draft law that almost half a million Romanian children aged 10-18 (477,050), representing about a quarter of all children in this age group, tried to smoke at least once their lives.
Moreover, 11.2% of school children aged between 13 and 15 years smoke constantly (that is, they said they smoked in the last 30 days), which means that about 70,000 children (69,493) in this age group have great chances of becoming daily smokers. More than 32,600 children aged 15, representing 14% of all children of this age, are already smoking regularly. Also, more than half (58%) of Romanian smokers say they started to consume tobacco constantly before the age of 18 and a third (33%) between 19 and 25 years.
The three MPs believe that “discouraging the onset of consumption of these products leads to a reduction in the number of smokers both in the short term and especially in the medium and long term,” the press release reads.
A similar project is already adopted in European countries such as Ireland, France, Slovenia, Spain, Poland, and the United Kingdom, USR says.
On the other hand, the big tobacco producers are unhappy with this bill and say that the initiative is exaggerated. “Instead of focusing on campaigns of communication, education and smoking prevention among minors, the initiators prefer unnecessary restrictions that violate the consumer's freedom of choice. While retailers and legitimate manufacturers will respect the law, minors will be able to buy illegal products from anywhere - from the subway, the market, from the corner of the street,” JTI Romania said in a response to this draft bill.
A smoking ban in all enclosed public spaces entered into force in Romania in mid-March 2016.
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