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Austria's new tobacco law comes under fire

Austria's new tobacco law comes under fire

The Local · 2 May 2016, 12:18

Published: 02 May 2016 12:18 GMT+02:00

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The mistake in the spelling of the font name Helvetica - which was translated into German and written as Helvetika in the bill - means that the font the government says cigarette brands must use to warn customers of health risks does not actually exist.

A request by one parliamentarian from an opposition party to have the bill corrected before being passed by the national council was rejected by the government.

“I intended to correct this obvious mistake, but the ruling parties and the FPÖ rejected our motion to amend the law accordingly. I couldn’t believe it,” said Gerald Loacker, MP for the NEOS party.

“It’s typical for the ruling parties, the social democrats and conservatives, to reject any proposal that comes from an opposition party. But refusing to admit spelling mistakes reaches a new level of stubbornness.”

The new law tobacco law, due to be implemented from the end of May 2017, is an anti-smoking measure and stipulates all cigarette packets should have ‘shock pictures’ on them and carry the warning “Smoking is deadly - quit now.”

E-cigarettes subject to "massive restrictions"

The changes to the law also affect the sale of e-cigarettes and vaporizers, often used by people to try and quit normal cigarettes as they usually contain nicotine but no harmful tar chemicals.

According to the NEOS, the vape sector in Austria will undergo huge changes as a result of this law.

“All vape products will be subject to massive restrictions by the new tobacco law, even if they come without nicotine,” says Loacker.

The NEOs spokesperson for health and care Elias von der Locht told the Local: “Mail orders, which are right now the most important distribution channel, will be completely banned by May.”

“This will probably destroy the small Austrian companies in this sector and make it easy for big tobacco corporations to take over the market, because they control the supply for all the small tobacco stores - trafik - in Austria.”

With every e-cigarette and liquid used in the device now needing official approval by the Ministry of Health, the party is also concerned the law will dramatically shrink the range of products for customers.

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Customers buying e-cigarettes or liquids in a specialist store will also not be allowed to test them, despite customers buying normal cigarettes being allowed to test them in the small tobacco shops.

Von der Locht is also critical of the fact that any kind of promotion for e-cigarettes will be banned, including on websites, in news and articles, on Facebook, and anything else “that can influence people to buy e-cigarettes or liquids”.

Supporters of the new bill argue that e-cigarettes must also be included, however, as they can also cause harm.

Green politician Eva Mückstein argued in parliament that the chemicals inside e-cigarettes are dangerous and studies show that using the devices can be a stepping stone for people who go on to smoke normal cigarettes.

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