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EU health director told OLAF Dalli supported ban on snus

Missing interview with health director in OLAF report is published by Brussels newspaper.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
28 May 2013, 12:00am
John Dalli (left) with Sanco director-general Paola Testori-Coggi
John Dalli (left) with Sanco director-general Paola Testori-Coggi


John Dalli supported keeping an EU ban on snus tobacco, the director-general for health and consumers affairs told OLAF chief Giovanni Kessler in her interrogation during the Dalligate investigation.

Dalli, who was asked to resign from Commissioner on 16 October 2012 after Kessler claimed there was "unambiguous circumstantial evidence" that he was aware of a €60 million bribe for the lifting of the ban, did not stand in the way of the DG-Sanco's tough revision of the Tobacco Products Directive.

That much was said by Italian compatriot Paola Testori-Coggi to Kessler himself, as Brussels newspaper New Europe leaked the final of the missing contents in the OLAF report that MaltaToday first published.

In her 17 July interview, Testori-Coggi's defence of the Tobacco Products Directive as supported by Dalli contrasted the watered-down version that was being proposed on 7 September, as leaked emails published by New Europe show, raising questions as to whether the European Commission's highest officials were intent on weakening Dalli's tough anti-smoking laws.

In her introductory statement, Testori-Coggi said: "I would like to say that the European Commission is currently preparing a modification of the present Directive on tobacco products with the aim to reinforce the control on these products and the limitation of their sale.

"The proposal of DG SANCO is very strict in terms of labelling, packaging, ingredients and smokless tobacco products, cross-border selling and illegal trade."

The director-general then confirms that the ban on smokeless tobacco like snus - as produced by Swedish Match, the company which reported the alleged €60 million bribe - was proposed to be extended. "The only exception to this ban could be granted upon request of a Member State for traditional products."

As expected, it was the Swedish government and industry and political parties which requested Sanco to lift the ban. "However we decided not to lift the ban because snus causes damage to health," Testori-Coggi said.

She then told Kessler that Dalli "supported our proposal against lifting the ban on snus" and that she never received any suggestions or hints from Dalli about changing the ban. "The Commissioner has always been against changing the ban on snus."

Later, in a 7 September email that was released under EU freedom of information laws, it turns out the Tobacco Products Directive was proposed for a slight watering-down:

1. Chewing (not snus, which is 'smokeless') and nasal tobacco were no longer banned, but only subject to labelling and ingredients legislation.

2. The sections on tobacco vending machines and display limitations at point of sale were deleted.

3. The notification system of the cross border internet sales was maintained.

4. Full standardisation, or plain packaging, was deleted but member states were allowed to adopt this approach.

5. The procedure for establishing characterising flavours was simplified whilst maintaining the possibility of a common EU approach.

6. On nicotine containing products the need to ensure a level playing field for pharmaceuticals and products with high nicotine dose was confirmed. For products with low nicotine content a labelling provision was introduced to facilitate consumer choice/information.

The TPD has since been taken under the charge of Maltese commissioner Tonio Borg, who has upheld most of the law's original contents as initially revised.
matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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@Avukat. Of course you have a right to believe what you want. The question is whether you are deluding yourself or not. As usual you are suffering from that great Maltese trait of self aggrandisement. Do you actually believe that Kessler and Barroso care about the PN leadership and what goes on in Malta? Their agenda was much more sinister and involved billions or Euros.
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I am not saying that this is so but I have always believed and have every right to believe that Dalli was set up by the local PN cabal so as not to contest the PN leadership election not to endanger the chosen one for PN leadership. I also have every right to believe that Commission members also worked with the local PN cabal because Dalli stood in the way of kickbacks from the tobacco industry and also the tobacco industry which had billions to lose with Dalli's tobacco directive.
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Rachel Roberts
Fuq dan il-kaz ma jsemmghu xejn l'Oposizzjoni immexxija mill -Kap ta' L'Opposizzjoni gdid Simon Busuttil? Kif had ma hu kurjuz fuq dan il-kaz, kif had ma jsaqsi xejn fil-Parlament imam mghedijjin fuq kemm jinkrew il-karozzi! John Dalli , Malti bhalna, jisthu l'OPPOSIZZJONI jsemmghu ismu fil-Parlament jew il-kaz tieghu..... jew qedin jistennew il-Gonzi jirrezenja qabel ma jsemmghuh?????