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EU Environment Committee sends strong warning to tobacco companies – Anderson

11 July, 2013 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the strong message sent to the tobacco companies today when the EU Environment Committee voted to adopt a proposal that Health warnings should cover 75% (combined picture and text) of packaging.

Martina Anderson said:

“The purpose of the Environment Committee deliberations was to identify measures that would discourage young people from taking up this unhealthy habit.

"Although I would have preferred stronger action I am happy that the Committee agreed higher percentage coverage than the 60% tobacco lobbyists were seeking.

“I also welcome the recommendation that e-cigarettes should come under medical regulations.

“Of course these proposals will have to be adopted by the EU Parliament before it becomes the official position.

“The Committee recommendation of 75% combined health warning coverage is a major defeat for the tobacco industry who lobbied hard to prevent it.

“These deliberations undertook a revision of the 2001 Tobacco Products Directive to update it in line with new market and scientific developments. The focus was on preventing young people from beginning to smoke. Given that 94% of smokers begin smoking before the age of 25 and many starting well below that age it is imperative that we take strong preventative measures. Today’s proposals are just a beginning.

“The tobacco industry, unsurprisingly has mounted an extensive and well-funded lobbying effort against the introduction of these measures. After all when you're selling a product which ultimately kills one in two of your customers, recruiting new addicts becomes a priority.

“The World Health Organisation's framework convention on tobacco control which came into force in 2005 and has been signed and ratified by 168 countries including the EU and its member states and lays down obligations for parties to the convention in the rules on interacting with the tobacco industry.

“I commend the Irish Health Minister on his initiative in being the first Minister in Europe to introduce proposals for this type of package warnings. It is therefore confusing that an Taoiseach - in contrast and in breach of article 5.3 which explicitly states that any interaction with the tobacco industry should only take place when strictly necessary and in as transparent a manner as possible – met privately with industry representatives recently."

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