Saturday

3rd Dec 2022

Tobacco lobbying derails MEP vote

  • The EU commission says 700,000 people die each year from tobacco-related illnesses in the EU (Photo: Eva the Weaver)

Intense tobacco lobbying in Brussels may have derailed a key vote among Euro-deputies to restrict the sale and distribution of the product.

Deputies were set to vote on a tobacco products directive this week in a wider effort to reduce the number of tobacco-related deaths.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Some 700,000 people in the EU die from tobacco-related illnesses every year.

But documents revealed by UK weekly the Observer on Sunday (8 September) say tobacco giant Philip Morris hired 161 people to combat the legislation.

Other pro-tobacco campaigners also lobbied in the lead-up to the vote, which is now set for 8 October.

A so-called Save E-cigs Campaign launched an Internet petition to pressure the EU lawmakers from regulating e-cigarettes as a medicinal product, limiting their sales and distribution.

Former Fine Gael aides are also on the case. The Irish Times reports some are now working as public relations advisers to the tobacco industry in Ireland, Britain and Brussels.

The delay could push the legislative cycle into next year under the Greek EU presidency, which is seen as pro-tobacco, reports the Guardian newspaper.

The directive calls for larger warning labels on cigarette packages, a removal on flavours like strawberry, vanilla and menthol that appear to target young people, and a ban on slim cigarettes and slim packages.

The proposal also says electronic cigarettes should only be sold as medicinal product.

Around half of the member states have laws that say nicotine is a medicine and cannot be approved unless sold as a medicine.

The parliament’s lead negotiator on the file, UK centre-left MEP Linda McAvan, has supported the commission’s proposal to prevent young people from taking up the habit in the first place.

Her report says despite an overall fall in the number of smokers, the prevalence rates among young people between the ages of 15 to 25 are higher than for the population as whole.

“We know that children, not adults, start smoking: 70 percent of smokers begin before their 18th birthday, many younger still,” notes the report.

The deputy’s proposal set for the vote made some changes to the commission’s original draft.

It exempts cigars, cigarillos, pipe tobacco and water pipes from the commission’s scope to ban all tobacco products, which contain the ‘characterising flavourings’.

McAvan also wants stricter labelling on ‘roll your own’ tobacco by proposing a form of standardisation, which removes overt branding from the packaging.

Her report states e-cigarettes not authorised as medicines cannot make claims that they help people kick the habit.

She says a further study is required to pool the evidence to demonstrate whether or not e-cigarettes help people stop smoking or encourage others to take up the habit.

MEPs crack down on cigarette advertising

Health warnings must cover at least 75 percent of the surface of cigarette packs, according to the European Parliament's public health committee.

Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'

Ukraine and a looming economic recession is set to dominate the upcoming Swedish EU presidency, which takes over at the start of next year. Sweden's ambassador to the EU, Lars Danielsson, laid out some of its priorities.

French official accused of conflict over EU fish lobby job

A senior French official is being accused of conflicts of interest for spearheading a leading role in Europeche, a fishing-industry lobby group based in Brussels. The hire comes as the EU Commission threatens a lawsuit against France over fishing.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU must break Orbán's veto on a tax rate for multinationals
  2. Belarus dictator's family loves EU luxuries, flight data shows
  3. How Berlin and Paris sold-out the EU corporate due diligence law
  4. Turkey's EU-funded detention centres ripe with abuse: NGO
  5. In green subsidy race, EU should not imitate US
  6. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  7. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  8. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us