BRUSSELS, September 5, 2012 — /PRNewswire/ –
Tobacconists across Europe will rally on 6th September 2012 to express their opposition to the legislative measures feared for the revision of the Tobacco Product Directive which, in the next few days, will be proposed by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Consumers Protection (DG SANCO).
These extreme measures will remove billions of euros from Europe’s economy, hugely increase the illicit trade and associated criminal activity and result in business closures and unemployment for hundreds of thousands of people across the EU.
Against all scientific evidence on their effectiveness and in spite of the contrary opinion of the majority of European citizens, expressed in the Public Consultation launched by DG SANCO, the extreme policy options now under consideration include:
- Hiding cigarette packages behind shelves which would be concealed from customers’ view
- Making all cigarettes alike in terms of their shape, design, packaging and flavour
Despite the costs, these measures come with the hopelessly low aspiration of reducing smoking prevalence by 0.5% over 20 years. Much more ambitious goals were achieved through information and education policies for healthy life styles. Today we know for sure that, in those countries where extreme tobacco control measures were implemented, the sale of counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes has increased in a staggering way.
“These demagogic and completely useless measures will cut tax revenues and turn out of house and home hundreds of thousands of people working in the retail sector, thus fuelling organized crime without bringing any positive effect to public health,” says Mr Giovanni Risso, National Chairman of the Confédération Européenne des Détaillants en Tabac.
Today, because of cigarette smuggling and counterfeit, Europe loses over 10 billion euro of tax revenues. Unfortunately, this figure is bound to increase, especially if the proposed measures are approved. Already, there are as many as 64.2 billion counterfeit and contraband cigarettes consumed in the EU, which accounts for approximately 10% of total consumption.
We ask Europe and our institutional representatives to abandon these extreme measures and promote prevention and information on healthy life styles, and not to treat, on the one hand, tobacconists like criminals and, on the other hand, citizens as if they were not in full possession of their faculties. In this respect, we believe it is essential to avoid measures that would dramatically impact on the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of retailers, their employees and families across the EU.
A Europe which claims to defend small enterprises – the economy’s cornerstone – and which wants to protect consumers, cannot claim to become a Super Nanny State. By doing so, it would over-intervene in individual choices made by single citizens, thus spreading a prohibitionist culture and turning thousands of families into the street.
Notes to Editors:
In its public consultation on the Tobacco Products Directive in 2011, the European Commission received over 85,000, the vast majority of which opposed extreme tobacco control measures. The TPD proposal is expected to be published by the Commission in the Autumn.
Events are taking place in Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Austria and Poland involving 1000s of retailers. Actions include retailers creating a “point of sale display ban” by covering up their shop displays using cloth and slogans in several countries, letters sent to national heads of state or government, meetings with political personalities, a press conference in the vicinity of the Polish president’s house.