EU Parliament delays key vote on tobacco controls
(BRUSSELS) - The European Parliament delayed Thursday a key vote on proposals to clamp down on tobacco industry marketing aimed at women and youngsters.
A change to the agenda for next week's first plenary session of the new political season means the vote has been put back until October, political groupings said.
The change was backed by many within the centre-right European Peoples Party (EPP), the biggest bloc in parliament, supported by eurosceptics including from British Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party.
The tobacco industry has lobbied hard to delay the vote in the hope that it can get changes to the proposals, which highlight the health issues of smoking, especially for women and young adults.
The delay to the vote angered some EPP members.
"The European Parliament and my political grouping lose all credibility by backing this delay," railed French MEP Francoise Grossetete.
"'Big Tobacco' lobbying has won the day," she said.
The proposals working their way through complex EU decision-making procedures aim to ban misleading packaging and presentation of tobacco products -- officials have charged that some look like packets of sweets or perfume.
But spokesman James Holtum for the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) grouping in Parliament said many members were really concerned with finding the right level of visibility for electronic cigarettes.
"Several groups wanted the opportunity to get this right -- the main reason being the authorisation of e-cigarettes," he said.
"We see these as a useful quitting aid and so wanted the vote put off until October -- hopefully we can have another discussion about e-cigs."
Earlier this week, makers and users of e-cigarettes attacked proposals to class them as medicinal products which they said would restrict access and increase their price.
Denied easy access to e-cigaretters, smokers trying to give up traditional tobacco cigarettes would find it even harder.
E-cigarette makers claim their product is a "public health revolution that has the potential to save millions of lives".