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Anderson report on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products passes in European Parliament

7 June, 2016 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the passing of a report she authored relating to the EU signing of the World Heath’s Organisation protocol on the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

Speaking after the vote passed in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Ms Anderson said,

“I am delighted that my report passed through the European Parliament today. I would like to thank my colleagues for assisting me in this process as well as the NGOs and organisations I met whilst drafting this report.

“This is a huge step in the right direction in the fight against smuggled and illicit tobacco products.

“The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Protocol is the first internationally drafted treaty aimed at combatting and eliminating the illicit trade in tobacco products and today the European Parliament threw its support behind it.

“Illicit trade in tobacco products is defined in the WHO Protocol as any practice or conduct related to producing, shipping, receiving, being in possession of, distributing, selling or buying tobacco products and that is prohibited by law.

“The stated objective of the Protocol is the elimination of all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products.

A member of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, MEP Anderson continued;

“Tobacco products, both illicit and legal, cause unfathomable harm to the health and well-being of citizens. Smoking has recently been identified as the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature death in the north of Ireland.

“The illicit trade in tobacco products is a scourge that effects all of Europe and Ireland is no exception. It costs the north of Ireland £450 million each year.

“Internal company documents reveal that smuggling became an integral part of tobacco companies' business strategies and according to Customs, Imperial Brand, the world’s fourth-largest international cigarette company, accounted for 55% of the 17 billion cigarettes smuggled into 'Britain and the north' every year.

“Once enforced, this protocol will also see countries take control of vital tracking and tracing operations. This will make it more difficult for tobacco products to make their way into the hands of smugglers or to be sold illegally.

"This protocol will also see considerable power removed from the powerful tobacco industry. For years, since the signing of the controversial PMI Agreements in 2004, the tobacco industry has been in control of this essential tracking and tracing. They were responsible for regulating themselves.

“This, after several members of the tobacco industry has been found complicit in this illicit trade, was madness. When enforced, this protocol will see nations working together to track and trace goods, not the self-interested tobacco industry.

“The passing of this report means that the European Union is now under pressure to ratify and enforce the World Health Organisation’s Protocol on the elimination of the illicit trade in tobacco products. When ratified this protocol will see countries collaborate in the fight against the illegal trade in tobacco products.” ENDS

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