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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2042

EU rejects renewal of agreement with tobacco industry on tackling illicit trade

By Manjari Peiris

The European Commission rejects renewal or extension of the controversial agreement with tobacco multinational Philip Morris International (PMI) on tackling illicit trade which expired on 9th July 2016.

The decision sets a milestone in the fight against illicit tobacco trade by allowing the allocation of resources and efforts for implementing more adequate measures, such as the global WHO Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

The PMI Agreement was signed 12 years ago, after the EU brought legal proceedings against the tobacco company for cigarette smuggling. It was intended to end PMI’s complicity in illicit tobacco trade, and introduced annual payments to the EU and its Member States, as well as fines when genuine PMI products were seized in illicit channels. It was the first of four similar agreements signed with each of the major tobacco companies. After the Commission released a Technical Assessment on the 24 January 2016, which showed `no direct causality` between the PMI Agreement and decreasing numbers of PMI illicit cigarettes, the European Parliament also voiced its opinion, voting for a resolution against any renewal or extension on the 9th March 2016.

Worldwide tobacco control advocates believe that agreements with the tobacco industry are not an adequate solution in the fight against illicit trade and indeed contribute to the problem. The only solution is the ratification of the Illicit Trade Protocol, which is the most effective instrument for countering the global problem of illicit Trade Protocol, which is the most effective instrument for countering the global problem of illicit tobacco trade. The EU and 5 of its Member States have already made the decision to ratify and it is expected that others will follow suit.

Florence Berteletti, Director of the Smoke Free Partnership said: “Today’s victory is a turning point in the fight against illicit trade and we hope that EU governments will refuse to sign bi-lateral agreements despite Phillip Morris’s aggressive stance for them to do so. Agreements with the tobacco industry are not an adequate solution in the fight against illicit trade and indeed contribute to the problem.

The only solution is the ratification of the Illicit Trade Protocol, which is the most effective instrument for countering the global problem of illicit tobacco trade. The EU and 5 of its Member States have already made the decision to ratify and we hope that others will follow suit”.

The Smoke Free Partnership remains strongly committed to promoting effective measures for combating the illicit tobacco trade and urges Member States that have not ratified the Illicit Trade Protocol to do so, in order to respond and counter the financial, legal and health impacts of the illicit trade of tobacco products.

Source of information: Smoke-Free Partnership

- Asian Tribune -

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