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Tobacco rules voted by MEPs ‘big victory for industry’, says Dalli

Former health commissioner accuses European institutions of short-changing citizens

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
10 October 2013, 12:00am
John Dalli was pushing forward anti-smoking laws that were greatly opposed by the tobacco industry
John Dalli was pushing forward anti-smoking laws that were greatly opposed by the tobacco industry


Former European commissioner for health and consumer policy John Dalli said new tobacco laws approved by MEPs had had important parts "watered down", after MEPs voted on Tuesday to remove particular restrictions on the tobacco industry through the law he pioneered.

Dalli resigned his position on 16 October 2012 after being accused in an anti-fraud investigation by OLAF that he was aware of an associated attempting to solicit a bribe from snus producers Swedish Match, to remove an EU ban on the retail of the tobacco product. The ban had been retained in Dalli's proposed directive.

In an opinion piece penned for Brussels magazine The Parliament, Dalli said the text approved by MEPs - which was preceded by intense lobbying from tobacco giant Philip Morris - had watered down very important provisions "that go at the very essence of what the revision set out to do".

He said the main features negatively affected were the reduction of the combined warning from the proposed 75 per cent to 65 per cent; the retention of menthol flavour for the next eight years, which he said "gives time to the tobacco industry to mount fresh attacks to extend the transition time or abolish the ban"; the retention of 20g packs for loose tobacco, slim cigarettes, and retaining e-cigarettes as a tobacco product and not a medicinal device.

"Undoubtedly this was a big victory for the tobacco industry which, as reported, had left no stone unturned to fight the provisions which I had proposed last year. I had said that my forced removal from the commission a few days before I was scheduled to launch the directive, on the third attempt after twice being stopped by the secretary general [Catherine Day], would result in a diluted directive as this would have lost its champion," Dalli said.

The former commissioner said it was his pressure, after having been forced to resign, and the support of MEPs, "that pushed the commission to put the directive back on the rails of discussion."

"In this important case, the European institutions are short changing the European citizens."
matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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Yanika Chetcuti
Thanks Lor, Ritchie and Xmun. This must be your good deed of the year in favour of this scourge.
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The oracle has spoken
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Manuel Scicluna
If people WANT to kill themselves with the poisons dished out by the tobacco industry, then no amount of legislation from the EU will dissuade the drug addicts from using the stuff.