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Germany

Germany Gets EU Slap on the Wrist over Tobacco Laws

The European Commission has warned Germany and Luxembourg that they need to toughen up its anti-tobacco laws in according with EU guidelines, or face legal action in the European Court of Justice.

Teenage smoking has gone down in Germany, but the EU wants more action from Berlin

Brussels has told governments in both Berlin and Luxembourg that it is speeding up its legal action against countries which have not made EU guidelines on banning tobacco advertising in newspapers, radio and the Internet a part of national law.

"The commission must ensure that EU law is upheld," said EU consumer affairs chief Markos Kyprianou. "I am sure that all governments realize that glamorizing smoking through fancy advertising can have devastating effects."

The EU directive, introduced in 2003, also prohibits tobacco sponsorship of cross-border events or activities.

Smoking is getting harder to do in Europe

A first warning had been sent to the countries in October, after both missed a July deadline to introduce new anti-tobacco legislation. Germany and Luxembourg have two months to complay, according to the Commission, or risk legal action in the EU's highest court.

Resistance

But Berlin has resisted following other European countries with strict anti-tobacco and anti-smoking rules, and according to the dpa press agency, has no plans to ban smoking from public buildings or restaurants.

"The problem is not going to be solved by a ban," the government's drug commissioner, Sabine Bätzing, told dpa, adding that current anti-smoking regulations have been effective, since the number of smokers, particularly among teenagers, has been going down.

Detlef Parr of the free-market liberal FDP party warned against a "witch hunt" against smokers.

"Drink and tobacco have always been a part of our society and their use lies in the responsibility of the individual," he said.

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