Tobacco industry lobbyists were successful in influencing some aspects of the EU’s new Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), according to research carried out by the University of Oxford, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the University of Bath.
The TPD, which governs the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the member states concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products entered into force on May 20 and member states are required to bring into force by May 20, 2016, the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the directive.
The researchers concluded in their paper published in Tobacco Control that tobacco industry lobbying was associated with ‘significant policy shifts’ in the TPD legislation towards the industry’s submissions.
‘In the light of the [World Health Organization's] Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, additional governance strategies are needed to prevent undue influence of the tobacco industry on EU policy making,’ they said.
The researchers used what they described as novel quantitative text-mining techniques to evaluate the impact of industry pressure.
The positions of 18 stakeholders including the tobacco industry, health NGOs and tobacco retailers were evaluated using their text submissions to EU consultations and impact assessments.
The researchers found that the Commission’s position shifted towards the tobacco industry’s position and that that transition reflected an increasing use of words pertaining to business and the economy in the Commission’s document.
If the industry was successful in changing policy, at least parts of it don’t believe that it was successful enough.
At the beginning of July, it was announced that subsidiaries of Philip Morris International was seeking review of the TPD by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
“We believe that the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive disrupts the balance that the EU treaties establish between the union and the member states,” said Marc Firestone, PMI’s senior vice president and general counsel in announcing the court challenge.
“The directive claims to improve the internal market in tobacco products, but its provisions go in the opposite direction. The directive includes a mix of product bans, mandates, and delegations of authority that raise serious questions under the EU treaties about consumer choice, the free movement of goods, and competition…”