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Anderson to work for Strong, Effective Tobacco Directive

20 February, 2013 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Speaking from Brussels today following a public hearing on the Tobacco Products Directive, attended by a number of NGO’s as well as Florence Berteletti Kemp, Director of Smoke Free Partnership and  Luk Joossens from the Association of European Cancer Leagues,  Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said:

“As one of the Shadow Rapporteurs on the Tobacco Products Directive I will be working with members to get a strong and effective directive in place before the end of the current mandate.

“The Australian Federal government has recently announced its intention to introduce plain packaging which sets the standard that I believe the EU should follow.

“But even with a mandatory plain packaging proposal, the Directive is vulnerable to delays and attempts to weaken its provisions by the tobacco industry and its allies. Last year the former EU Health Commissioner, John Dalli was accused of involvement in corruption when a Swedish source claimed a Maltese businessman offered to sell access/influence to the Commissioner for €60million to lift the EU-wide ban on Snus - a smokeless tobacco which can presently only be sold in Sweden.

“Parliament has still not seen the EU anti-fraud agency report on Dalli and there remain questions as to why the agency has failed to allow its own supervisory committee to see the full Dalli report. I have put questions to EU Commission President, Manuel Barroso to find out what action will be taken to ensure its anti-fraud policies and internal code of conduct for staff are transparent and more effective.

 “With 70% of smokers starting before the age of 18 and over 2,000 people a year in the North of Ireland and 2,000 a day in the EU dying from tobacco related chronic diseases, this is a problem area that requires robust enforceable regulation. Industry vested interests must not be allowed to influence or dilute the actions that are required to comprehensively tackle the use of this killer product.

“After years of deliberations, the European Commission last year finally adopted proposals to revise its Tobacco Products Directive.

“The proposed legislation consists of new and strengthened rules on how tobacco products can be manufactured, presented and sold. More specifically, it bans the use of cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco (RYO) and smokeless products with character changing flavours and makes the use of large pictorial health warnings mandatory on cigarettes and RYO.

“The proposals include measures for products that were not specifically regulated so far, such as e-cigarettes and herbal products for smoking.  Chewing and nasal tobacco will also be subject to specific labelling and ingredient regulations and the existing ban on oral tobacco (snus) will be maintained.

“I support the call from the Smoke Free Partnership that standardised plain packaging for Tobacco products should be made mandatory.  Plain packaging means that all cigarette packs would look the same, packaged in a standard shape without any branding, design or logo.”

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