MEP calls for EU ban on cigarettes by 2025
An Irish MEP has called for a total ban on tobacco products across the European Union within 15 years.
Avril Doyle, head of the Irish faction within the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), on Tuesday told a Brussels conference on how to prevent the tobacco industry from lobbying EU politicians that she wants cigarettes and cigars illegal in Europe by 2025.
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"I would be happy to see a long-term target date, say 2025, when it would be illegal to sell tobacco products in the EU," she said to an applauding crowd of parliamentarians and global health experts.
"That would give them 15 years' notice for all our citizens to realise just how serious we are about not allowing their continued sale in the EU, and hopefully elsewhere," she added.
Ms Doyle, who sits on the steering committee of the EPP, the largest political group in the EU assembly, organised the conference, which was tasked with developing ways for the EU to comply with what anti-smoking campaigners call the most important article of the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Article 5.3, which requires its signatories to prevent lobbying by tobacco companies on any public health policies.
The current EU health commissioner, Androulla Vassiliou, also in attendance, declared to the audience of health professionals and anti-smoking campaigners: "I am ready to commit today to not accept any invitation coming from the tobacco industry or those working in its interests so long as I hold office."
She said she expects a European Commission and member state decision on how to implement the article to be achieved by September, adding: "It wouldn't make much sense if only the commission acted in this way," and called on other public bodies to not talk to tobacco lobbyists either.
Talk of banning tobacco and tobacco lobbyists came as the commission unveiled plans to make Europeans pay a lot more for cigarettes by hiking excise taxes.
The commission wants to harmonise tobacco taxes across Europe in order to discourage smoking and clamp down on smuggling.