European institutions voice support for crucial tobacco protocol - Anderson
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed a constructive discussion into a report on the illicit trade in tobacco products held in the European Parliament this week.
MEP Anderson, a member of the European Parliament's committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs said;
"The illicit trade in tobacco products is an incalculable scourge on both the health and the wealth of so many people and countries. Tobacco kills six million people every year, 7,000 people die of smoking related illness each year in Ireland alone.
"Last year I was made lead MEP on the World Health Organisation's Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. This Protocol would see tobacco products accurately and independently tracked and traced from their manufacture right through to legal purchase.
"If enforced this Protocol would see the influence of the tobacco industry massively reduced and their control over tracking and tracing removed entirely.
"Until the enforcement of this Protocol, the tobacco industry has full control of its own tracking and tracing - the fox has control of the hen house."
Speaking after a Committee discussion on the Illicit Trade Protocol, MEP Anderson said;
"We are engaged in a battle between the tobacco industry and the World Health Organisation's Convention and Protocol. It is about time MEPs and the European institutions decide what side they are on.
"It was refreshing and reassuring to hear today that both the European Commission's health department, DG - SANTE, and counter-fraud department, OLAF, have given their support to the Protocol. I look forward to working with both those departments, and all others, to ensure a swift signing and ratification of this Protocol.
"In recent days and months the tobacco industry has been hit by set-backs. MEPs over-whelming voted to end the controversial PMI agreements, the High Court in London dismissed attempts by big tobacco to sue for damages and today, in what amounts to another slap in the face, the Civil Liberties committee was unanimous in their support for the Protocol."