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EU backs tough anti-smoking rules

The European Parliament has voted in favour of tough new anti-smoking rules governing the tobacco market including the introduction of mandatory picture and text health warnings covering about two-thirds of cigarette packs.

Politicians voted for the larger warning labels, with the inclusion of gruesome pictures such as cancer-infested lungs, plus a ban on most flavoured tobacco products and tighter regulation of e-cigarettes.

Health advocates welcome the legislation as a milestone in helping to reduce the number of smokers in the 28-nation bloc, while the tobacco industry condemns it as a burdensome regulation stymieing a legal industry, which is heavily taxed.

The legislation will take effect in 2016 following what is expected to be a rubber stamp approval procedure by EU governments next month.

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