Friday 15 February 2013

The EU's amen corner

The first and only public hearing for the EU's Tobacco Products Directive is being held in Brussels on February 25th. Incredibly, there appears to be nobody representing the interests of the millions of European e-cigarette users who will have their product effectively banned by this legislation. Indeed, the whole line-up is filled with the EU's yes men (and women). Only one speaker is not a card-carrying anti-tobacco extremist and she's from the tobacco industry.

Public Hearing on "Tobacco Products" organised by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)

Monday, 25 February 2013 from 15:00 to 18:30

European Parliament, Room JAN 4Q2, Brussels


Institutional Representatives

15.00 - 15.05 Welcome and opening by the Chair Matthias Groote

15.05 - 15.15 Mr James Reilly, Irish Minister for Health

15.15 - 15.25 Mr Tonio Borg, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy

15.25 - 16.00 Questions by MEPs

Position of the Main Stakeholders

16.00 - 16.10 Ms Florence Berteletti Kemp Director, Smoke Free Partnership: The economic and heath burden of tobacco in the EU: The need to protect children and young people

16.10 - 16.20 Antonella Pederiva Secretary General, Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers (CECCM)

Proposal for a revision of the Tobacco Product Directive: assessment and impacts

16.20 - 16.50 Questions by MEPs

Specific Aspects of the Proposal: ingredients, labelling and marketing

16.50 - 17.00 Dr Martina Pötschke-Langer Head of the Unit Cancer Prevention in the German Cancer Research Center: Tobacco additives – the increased health risk

17.00 - 17.10 Luk Joossens Advocacy Officer, Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL): Traceability, plain packaging and illicit tobacco trade

17.10 - 17.20 Dr David Hammond Associate Professor in the School of Public Health & Health Systems at the University of Waterloo - Canada: Health warnings and plain packaging

17.20 - 17.30 Dr Jean King Director of Tobacco Control: Interference by the tobacco industry in tobacco control policy and the need for transparency in official interactions with industry and in lobbying

17.30 - 18.15 Debate with MEPs

18.15 - 18.25 Concluding remarks by the Rapporteur

18.25 - 18.30 Closing statement by the Chairman

Two of the putative experts are best known for advocating plain packaging despite plain packaging not being part of the directive. It looks very much as if this hearing will be dominated by professional prohibitionists complaining that the directive does not go far enough.

Don't let them get away with it. The de jure ban on snus and the de facto ban on e-cigarettes are outrageous infringements of liberty that will be a disaster for the health of millions of Europeans. Most of the other provisions, such as the ban on menthol cigarettes, are petty, pointless and lacking in any scientific justification.

This session will be available to watch on the European Parliament TV website. If you are concerned about the EU's casual disregard for harm reduction, science and liberty, I urge you to read Clive Bates' post on the issue here and then write to your MEP. MEPs can ask questions at this event. Time is running out.

The Ashtray blog is updating its list of MEPs who support or oppose harm reduction here.


Ben said...

Martina Pötschke-Langer is hiding her advocacy behind the more impressive and "neutral" job title of Head of the Unit of Cancer Prevention in the German Cancer Research Center.
But since 1999 she is advisor to the World Health Organization. In 2002 the Unit Cancer Prevention was designated as WHO Collaborating Centre for Tobacco Control so that she is also Head of the WHO CC.

Ben said...

"Dr Jean King Director of Tobacco Control: Interference by the tobacco industry in tobacco control policy"

The art of twisting reality and of deceiving. I'd be surprised to learn that tobacco industry interferes in tobacco control policy other than to defend its legal rights in a free market. It's rather tobacco control that interferes in political matters.

Karl Fasbracke said...

Note that the ballots will be "by name", i.e. we will known who voted in favour and who voted against harm reduction.

In any upcoming election in my country I will not give my vote to a party which exhibited poor or no support for harm reduction, because in my eyes this would be a crime which supersedes about everything else.

DP said...

Dear Mr Snowdon

" ...such as the ban on menthol cigarettes, are petty, pointless ..."

I am sure the pettiness is not pointless, nor the pointlessness petty - the whole point being to show that they can do what they want. More pointless legislation, regulation and decisions to follow, ad nauseam, with side orders of pettiness, vindictiveness and pure unadulterated indifference to those upon whom it is heaped.

The third reich lasted 12 years, out of a promised thousand. The fourth reich has started its fifth decade, counting from the fall of the UK, and the selling into slavery of the British peoples*.


* Retail slavery has been abolished, but not wholesale.

Junican said...

And I have no doubt that the hall will be packed with MEP Fellow-travelling Zealots.

Unknown said...

I find it strange that nobody highlights the elefant in the room: The Tobacco directive is the work of the pharmaceutical industry.

It will grant Big Pharma EU-monopoly on nicotine by banning the competitors: Swedish snus & E-cigs. The sole intention of the directive is protecting Nicorette- and Champix sales by keeping competitors out - while at the same time making the world a little more ugly for smokers.

While not being present at the hearing themselves, the pharma industry is represented by their varoius front groups. None of these "main stakeholders" represents the public, of course. They are zealots, yes - but that's just Big Pharma's ordinary warfare in order to reach their political goals. They are paying and manipulating zealots to attack their enemies.

The SmokeFree Partnership is a central zealot player. An EU-lobbying group, owned by several other groups, among these the European Respiratory Society. The conflicts of interest with Big pharma are substantial:

According to the SmokeFree Partnership's own information they commissioned the SmokeFree Europe Conference with many high-ranked EU-ministers in 2005 and the subsequent report, "Lifting the Smokescreen" for Pfizer & GlaxoSmithKline:

This report was totally trashed in a 2008 scientific paper by French top smoking cessation guru, Dr. emeritus Robert Molimard. The report and the conference were important reasons to why smoking bans were imposed in many EU-countries.

To sum up, Big Pharma will get their way as long as their work behind the scenes are not revealed. They have clerverly manipulated the media and the public to believe the agenda is health - well, it is not. It's all about the money - and about Big Pharma's nicotine monopoly.

Sorry for the long post.

Ivan D said...

As a consequence of this post, I read Clive Bates and as a consequence the ASH briefing on e-cigs. We can criticize ASH for being rather late adopters and responding only to overwhelming pressure but the briefing is actually not bad. Did someone fire Deborah Arnott and replace her with a human?