The European Commission believes that its proposed new Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) will not increase the illicit trade in cigarettes.
In the preamble to a written question, Slovakian MEP Monika Flašíková Beňová said that, according to the commission, the review of the TPD was aimed at finding ways to reduce the volume of cigarette sales and thus the health risks facing the EU’s population.
“Standardization of packaging, however, in the opinion of some experts, creates a massive incentive for smuggling and counterfeiting of cigarettes from neighboring countries,” she said.
“In many cases, illegal cigarettes do not comply with applicable health standards, and so they represent a huge health risk to our citizens.
“Cigarette smuggling also has, of course, a negative impact on the national budgets of Member States.”
The MEP then went on to ask: “Is the commission aware of the immense health risks caused by contraband cigarettes?
“If so, how does it wish to prevent such threats to the health of EU citizens?”
The commission replied that effective measures against the illicit trade were in the interests of tobacco control policy, because illicit products undermined the regulatory efforts of tobacco control legislation and increased the affordability of tobacco products.
“Prior to making its legislative proposal, the commission carried out a thorough analysis of the economic, social and health impacts of all its policy measures,” the commission said.
“The proposal is not expected to increase the illicit trade, an analysis that is shared by many experts including many law enforcement experts.
“In addition, the proposal foresees the introduction of measures against the illicit trade, in particular a full tracking and tracing system and visible security features.
‘The commission is strongly committed to combat the illicit trade in tobacco products and recently adopted a Communication on Stepping up the fight against cigarette smuggling and other forms of illicit trade in tobacco products – A comprehensive EU Strategy is accompanied by an Anti-smuggling Action Plan to this effect.
“One important element of that plan is the rapid adoption of the Tobacco Products Directive with its provisions to address illicit trade.”
Finally, the commission said it had recently proposed a council decision authorizing the commission to sign, on behalf of the EU, the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, further underlining the commission’s commitment to the fight against illicit trade.