April 18. 2024. 9:00

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After "QATARGATE" at the Parliament, "TOBACCOGATE" at the Commission?

Is the European Commission under the influence of the Tobacco Lobby?

The European Union has set itself the goal of a "Tobacco-Free Generation" starting from 2023. This ambitious goal requires the adoption of new and rapid tobacco control measures. The revision of the directives related to tobacco, planned by the Commission since 2020, has not yet taken place.

This inaction is not a good sign, according to the MEPs signing the White Paper of the European Parliament’s Tobacco Working Group. The Commission must urgently respect the commitments to transparency and independence in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty concluded in 2003, entered into force in 2005, and ratified by the EU on June 30, 2005.

For several years, the European Parliament has been waiting for the Commission to schedule the revisions of the two European directives related to tobacco, the 2011 directive on the taxation of tobacco products, and the so-called Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), from 2014. Our legislation must indeed take into account the emergence of "new tobacco products" such as electronic cigarettes, puffs, heated tobacco, or nicotine pouches, but also the explosion of parallel trade largely organized by tobacco manufacturers, as well as knowledge about the environmental damage caused by tobacco cultivation, the manufacture of new tobacco products, and their consumption.

To spark the necessary debate and define the essential measures that need to be taken, a group of European deputies led by Michèle Rivasi (Greens/EFA), Anne-Sophie Pelletier (The Left) and Pierre Larrouturou (S&D) met between 2021 and 2023, with the participation of public health associations Smoke-Free Partnership (SFP), Alliance Against Tobacco (ACT), the Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG) from the University of Bath, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), and independent experts.

The themes of the parallel tobacco trade, the "Dentsu Tracking/Jan Hoffmann" traceability scandal, the lobbying of cigarette manufacturers and their affiliates, and the environmental damage of tobacco were particularly studied.

The synthesis of these roundtables took the form of a White Paper which will be presented on April 11, 2024. Its findings are irrefutable: the White Paper demonstrates how the European Commission all-too-easily opens its doors to the tobacco lobby, showing itself to be particularly permeable to the industry’s demands, even though they are contrary to public health and the public finances of the 27 member states, and to the proper administration of our institutions.

The White Paper of the European Parliament’s Working Group on Tobacco will be distributed in French and English to the 27 Member States, the Commission, political groups, current and future MEPs, NGOs, and the media, with the ambition of fostering the emergence of a Tobacco-Free Europe.

On the eve of the White Paper’s presentation, the members of the European Parliament’s Working Group on Tobacco spare a thought for Michèle Rivasi, the true soul of this collective effort, whose premature death deeply moved them. This White Paper is primarily hers; her fight against industrial lobbies and for the transparency and independence of public policies must be shared.


Contact: MEP Anne-Sophie Pelletier: [email protected]

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