Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, welcomed the European Parliament’s approval of a World Health Organisation protocol to counter illicit trade in tobacco products. Parliament’s consent was required so that the European Union can ratify this protocol to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Speaking from Strasbourg this afternoon, after the vote, Ms. Childers, a member of Parliament’s Environment and Public Health Committee, said:
“Today’s overwhelming vote in Parliament sends a strong signal to the EU member states’ governments, who can now proceed with ratification on behalf of the Union as a whole.
“Not only does this product claim hundreds of thousands of lives prematurely across the EU, but the criminal activities surrounding smuggling and counterfeiting deprive the public purse of significant sums.
“In turn, these are often used to fund other sorts of criminal activities, including human trafficking.
“Over a decade ago, the EU brought big tobacco to court over the industry’s complicity in the smuggling of their own products, and the settlement reached was a raft of agreements where tobacco companies agreed to police themselves on this matter.
“Those of us who are active on tobacco control at EU level persuaded a majority of Parliament colleagues to reject the renewal of those agreements with the industry.
“They are a bad deal, with obsolete parameters and moral hazard, as the industry alone has been in charge of verifying and reporting on smuggling.
“This protocol, and the applicable provisions of the new Tobacco Products Directive, which we shaped in line with the WHO standards, must lead to a new model that will enable us to recover the billions due to the tax and customs authorities.
“Independent traceability of tobacco products is paramount here, and is simply absent from the EU agreements with the industry.
“The protocol’s success also depends on the EU countries’ individual ratification at national level, of course.
“So far, only five EU member states have completed ratification. I hope that the new Irish government will do this as soon as possible, so that we can remain among those who lead by example in this crucial area of public health policy.”