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‘Hasty decisions’ on EU tobacco directive will lead to ‘ineffective legislation’

| December 19, 2013

Japan Tobacco International said yesterday that hasty decisions made in respect of the revised EU tobacco products directive (TPD) would lead only to ineffective legislation.

“The TPD has been negotiated hastily, pushed by political agendas, with little consideration given to the effectiveness of the numerous measures and the cost entailed for EU Member States and businesses,” said Ben Townsend, JTI’s head of EU affairs. He was commenting on the agreement reached yesterday between the European Commission, Parliament and Council on the proposal for a revised TPD.

“Policies that are not supported by strong evidence and that do not consider market dynamics are bound to fail – they do not deliver any public health benefits,” he said.

In a note published on its website, JTI said many of the measures of the revised TPD were disproportionate and were a threat to the internal market from an innovation, competition, consumer choice and cross-border trade standpoint. ‘Thousands of businesses – wholesalers, retailers, packaging suppliers to name but a few – will need additional time to absorb these radical changes.

‘Oversizing health warnings to 65 per cent with pictures positioned at the top of the pack and standardizing the pack shape and size (minimum of 20 cigarettes per pack and 30 grams for roll-your-own tobacco) will not work, as people already understand the health risks associated with smoking. Rather, these restrictions will confuse retailers and consumers, making it difficult for them to distinguish brands.’

JTI added that it would be much easier for counterfeiters to produce and sell cheap cigarettes that were not regulated, not tested, and not taxed. “The more complex and innovative the packaging is, the more difficult it is to counterfeit,” said Townsend. “Simply put, these restrictions will give counterfeiters a blueprint on how to fake a pack.”

The company said that, like many other measures, the proposal to ban entire product categories such as menthol cigarettes was not based on any sound evidence. If consumers were unable to find their preferred products through legal channels, smugglers would make sure they were available from the boot of their cars.

As a consequence, the TPD would threaten jobs, investment and much needed revenue in EU Member States. “While the legitimate tobacco sector directly and indirectly employs around 1.5 million people across the EU, the illegal trade in tobacco is already costing EU countries around €12.5 billion a year,” said Townsend. “This is what is at stake.”

JTI said that while objections to the TPD had been raised many times by EU member states, members of the European Parliament and a number of important parliamentary committees, it appeared their concerns had fallen on deaf ears.

‘Many of the measures still need to be carefully considered by EU decision-makers before the Parliament and Council come to vote for the final time on the TPD in the New Year,’ JTI added.

Category: Breaking News

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