UNITAB, which represents nearly 85,000 tobacco growers acrossEurope, is questioning the EU’s commitment to preserving jobs following leaks about the European Commission’s proposals for the revision of its tobacco products directive.
Francois Vedel, UNITAB’s delegate secretary says that the introduction of plain packaging would lead to a price war because manufacturers would be prevented from distinguishing their brands from those of their competitors by any other means.
And this war would be waged to the detriment of the raw-material suppliers, the tobacco growers, who, following the removal of direct subsidies, were already facing an uncertain future.
“Is this how the European Union wants to preserve employment within the context of an unprecedented economic and social crisis and loss of confidence in European institutions?” he asked.
The Commission’s official position, repeated in answer to a number of written question raised this year in the European parliament, is that it has not made any decisions on plain packaging.
The Commission’s proposed revisions of the tobacco products directive are due to be presented before the end of the year.
But UNITAB said in a press note issued on Wednesday that it seemed likely that the Directorate General for Health and Consumers had planned out and out war on the tobacco industry when revising the directive.
The revisions would mount an attack on all ingredients that heightened the appeal of tobacco products, of which tobacco was one, and would promote plain packaging.
UNITAB fervently opposed these moves because they would mean the end of the livelihoods of 85,000 European tobacco growers and the 400,000 jobs that they helped to create.
One of the arguments against plain packaging is that it would make it easier for counterfeiters to fake packs and therefore that it would encourage the illicit trade.
‘Favouring contraband and counterfeit products from third countries using cheap tobacco of dubious quality that does not respect the health and environmental norms in force within the EU; these measures would prove to be ineffective or even harmful for Public Health,’ UNITAB said in its press note.
‘Furthermore, they constitute unacceptable discrimination against European production.’
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