Philip Morris International will shut down its manufacturing facility in Bergen op Zoom, the Netherlands, in response do declining demand for cigarettes in Europe.
The closure of the plant in Bergen op Zoom, PMI’s largest production facility worldwide, would result in 1,230 job losses, about 90 percent of its total workforce there. Production will shift to other factories in Europe with spare capacity, it said.
PMI’s said sales volumes have plummeted 20 percent in the past four years and that a recovery is “highly unlikely.”
The company also blamed a new EU tobacco-control law that will ban flavored cigarettes and require bigger warning labels on packets.
Earlier, Philip Morris said it would stop making cigarettes in Australia by year-end, resulting in the loss of 180 jobs as the company shifts production to South Korea.
The Netherland’s ban on tobacco smoking in bars and cafés will be reinstated across almost the entire hospitality industry in July next year, according to a DutchNews story quoting junior health minister, Martin van Rijn.
Changes to the tobacco law would be presented to parliament before October so that all legal obstacles could be dealt with and the total ban properly anchored in law, the minister said.
Once the ban was reintroduced, smoking would not be allowed in small cafés and bars run only by their owners, as was presently the case. But it would be permitted in separate sealed-off smoking areas without service.
“We are doing what we can with controls, warnings and fines but our financial resources are limited,” the minister said. “Ultimately… not smoking in any bar of café should become the norm.”
The minister conceded that the Dutch smoking ban been introduced to protect workers rather than the public and therefore small bars and cafés run by their owners had been exempted on the grounds that they had no staff. However, he said that the ban, brought in nearly five years ago, was widely flouted in bigger bars, cafés and nightclubs.
No justification was given in the story as to why small cafés and bars run only by their owners were being punished because larger establishments were breaking the law and law enforcement agencies were failing to crack down on these businesses. And there was no explanation as to why it was thought that law enforcement agencies would be more successful at cracking down on all cafés and bars rather than just some of them.
Junior Health Minister Martin van Rijn plans to introduce legislation to raise the Dutch legal age to buy tobacco products from 16 to 18, reports DutchNews.nl.
Earlier this month, the Dutch cigarette industry association SSI, the smoking tobacco association VNK, and Philip Morris Benelux, called for raising the legal tobacco buying age.
Anti-tobacco group Stivoro has blamed government policies, including Health Minister Edith Schippers’ 2010 decision to relax the country’s smoke-free law to exempt bars smaller than 70 square meters, for an anticipated increase in the adult smoking rate to 26.2 percent by the end of 2012.