EU lawmakers to push ahead with anti-tobacco plans

BRUSSELS (AP) — European lawmakers are trying to tighten rules governing the multi-billion dollar tobacco market by imposing bigger and bolder warnings on cigarette packs, banning most flavorings like menthol and beefing up regulation of electronic cigarettes.

Lawmakers are set to vote on the sweeping legislation Tuesday after months of wrangling with tobacco lobbyists, who decry it as disproportionate regulation limiting consumer freedom, and officials advocating the benefits to public health.

Treatment of smoke-related diseases costs about 25 billion euro ($34 billion) a year, and the EU estimates that there are around 700,000 smoking-related deaths annually across the 28-nation bloc.

If a majority of lawmakers back the legislation, the European Parliament must still reach a compromise with EU governments on certain points before the rules can enter into force, possibly next year.

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