A matter of timing

| July 6, 2018

A member of the European Parliament has suggested that the European Commission would be putting the commercial interests of tobacco manufacturers before the health interests of EU citizens if it issued a legal challenge to Belgium’s proposal to ban menthol cigarettes.

In a preamble to his question, the Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts said the purpose of the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive was better to protect consumers, particularly young people, by considering new scientific knowledge and legislating on new tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

Specifically, the TPD banned the sale of menthol cigarettes from May 20, 2020.

‘Tobacco use is the most common cause of premature death in the EU,’ he said. ‘On average, 700,000 smokers die each year and smokers die 14 years earlier than non-smokers. That figure is almost 20 times higher than the number of premature deaths caused by fine particulate nitrogen oxide emissions, the dangers of which came to light during the “dieselgate” scandal. Of people aged between 15 and 24 years old, 29% are smokers.’

Lamberts said the Belgian press had reported that the Commission was threatening to bring legal action against the Belgian Government because it was seeking to ban the sale of menthol products before 2020. (See the June 18 story: Brussels threat to Belgium)

‘In doing so, the Commission would be putting the commercial interests of manufacturers before the public health interests of EU citizens,’ he said.

He then asked:

‘What is its justification for that stance?’; and

‘Is the Commission’s position not contrary to Article 9 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which provides that “in defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union shall take into account requirements linked to (…) a high level of (…) protection of human health”?’

The Commission is due to reply in writing.

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Category: Breaking News, Flavoring, Markets, People, Regulation

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