Another step taken in the fight against smuggled tobacco products
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the passing of a report she wrote, encouraging the European Union to ratify the World Health Organisation’s Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.
MEP Anderson’s report was passed with huge support in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee and will now go to plenary for final ratification.
Speaking after the vote, Ms Anderson said,
“The passing of my report this afternoon marks the next step taken in the fight against the illicit trade of tobacco products.
“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.
“On top of this, the illicit market in tobacco products costs the north £450 million each year. The Irish border is cynically exploited by criminals for the smuggling of tobacco products and several other goods.
“My report calls on the European Union to ratify and enforce the World Health Organisation’s protocol on the illicit trade in tobacco products. When ratified this protocol would see countries collaborate in the fight against the illegal trade in tobacco products.
“Currently, as the result of a dubious legal settlement, the tobacco industry is responsible for regulating itself. It is up to big tobacco to track and trace their own products. This is obscene as the tobacco industry has been found complicit, on a number of occasions, of actually promoting the illicit trade in their products, presumably to get people hooked on them.”
Speaking after the vote, MEP Anderson concluded;
“When this protocol comes into force, the tobacco industry will have to relinquish control of the tracking and tracing of their products. In fact, no aspect of the fight to eliminate the illicit trade in tobacco would be delegated to the tobacco industry.
“It is vitally important that the EU takes the lead in fighting the illicit trade in tobacco products. Ratification of this protocol would amount to a first step in the right direction.
“It would massively reduce the control the tobacco industry has over its own affairs and establish a viable tracking and tracing mechanism in the spirit of collaboration and information sharing.
“On this, the World Health Organisations “World No Tobacco Day”,I welcome passing of this report and I look forward to bringing this report to a plenary session in Strasbourg where it will hopefully be approved and ratified as soon as possible.” ENDS