Monday, 29 July 2013
Tobacco Products Directive? Nein Danke!
If I credited them with enough wit and guile, I could almost suspect that the architects of the Tobacco Products Directive put e-cigarettes into the legislation to draw attention away from all the other illiberal nonsense they've got planned.
At some point in 2015-16, millions of Europeans are going to pop into their local shop and find that their usual brand of cigarettes, or pouch of rolling tobacco, is no longer available. Those who smoke menthol and slims will be told that the EU decided to ban them back in 2013. The packs will be covered in giant warnings covering three-quarters of their surface. The exact size and dimensions of the packaging and the cigarettes will have been dictated in Brussels.
While the obesity warriors strive to make crisp packets and chocolate bars smaller, the Tobacco Products Directive aims to make packs of tobacco larger. While scientists recognise that Swedish snus is the world's least hazardous tobacco product, the EU will maintain its ban on it.
None of this can be justified either on health grounds or on grounds of market harmonisation. As Angela Harbutt notes in this article, no EU country has even considered banning menthol. Nor has any EU government mandated 75 per cent graphic warnings, or demanded that cigarettes be exactly 7.5mm in diameter, or implemented any of the other three-in-the-morning ideas that the berks of Brussels have come up with.
If you are a regular reader, you will know all this by now. You will be familiar with the barely believable exploits of incompetent and/or corrupt individuals like Anna Soubry, John Dalli, Linda MacAvan et al. Unfortunately, most people have not even heard of the Tobacco Products Directive because the media have almost universally decided not to report it. Most of the consumers who will be affected by this legislation will not know about it until after—probably long after—it has been passed. Many will not be aware of it until that day in 2015-16 when they find their product of choice is no longer legal. That is just the way the European Commission wants it. By then, people can tut and grumble all they like but there will be nothing they can do about it.
That day has not come yet, however, and I'm pleased to see that Forest is fighting the consumer's corner will its new campaign No ThankEU! which gives the facts about the legislation and allows people to register their opposition. Do go have a read, sign up, share and follow them on Twitter. The more noise that is made about the EU's bureaucratic power grab the better.
Posted by Christopher Snowdon at 5:34 pm