Source: EP ENVI

Subject: Public hearing on Tobacco Products

Date published: February 25 2013

Documents: ProgrammePresentations

On February 25, the ENVI committee held a public hearing on Tobacco Products. Please find details of the discussion below.

1) Institutional representatives

2) Position of the Main Stakeholders

3) Specific Aspects of the Proposal: ingredients, labelling and marketing

1) Institutional representatives

Matthias Groote (S&D, DE) Chair of the ENVI committee, introduced the meeting agenda and gave the context. There is a lot of interest and he wants to move as quickly as possible.

Mr. James Reilly, Irish Minister for Health thanked the members for the invitation and the opportunity to speak about tobacco and the damage caused by smoking. There are about 700 000 European deaths every year from tobacco related causes. It is an evitable health problem and it brings huge costs to the economy in terms of healthcare and productivity.

Half of long-term smokers will die from smoking related diseases. We cannot allow this to continue. 28% of the EU population smokes said a Eurobarometer survey. The Irish prevalence rate is similar. This is not acceptable. Nicotine is an immensely addictive substance and when young people become addicted they are trapped by this addiction. We must act now to make smoking less attractive to children, he stated.

What can we do to discourage people from smoking, he asked. In his role as Minister, he said he committed to tackle the problem in Ireland and this proposal is his key priority for the presidency. No one measure alone can reduce the number of smokers or children who start to smoke. A combination of measures is required: Effective legislation, support to quit, and awareness and education campaign on the effect of smoking.

The proposal is a key tool in preventing young people from starting to smoke. The ambition is to make smoking less attractive and discourage it among young people. The Commission text proposes stricter rules on features that increase tobacco attractiveness, for example characterising flavours. Health warnings are made bigger. The proposal also addresses labelling and packaging, ingredients, regulation of nicotine containing products, illicit trade, traceability and tracking features. His ambition is to build a consensus and facilitate an agreement among Member States.

He then presented the Irish achievements on this issue mentioning the comprehensive range of tobacco legislation that is in place in Ireland: A successful implementation of the Smoke free initiative from 2004, the ban on the sell of pack of cigarettes of less than 20. The legislative framework also includes the introduction of a retail register, prohibition on self service vending machines except in licenced premises, ban on the sale to people under the age of 18, an increase in cigarette prices, the introduction of graphic warnings. These will have a positive impact on young people in the long term.

It is important that the tobacco policy and the legislative framework continue to develop in the EU. Further measures being considered include a ban on smoking in cars in the presence of children and the extension of the ban to public parks, sport grounds, public grounds. What they want to achieve is to de-normalise smoking. There will be an opportunity to discuss this during the informal health Council meeting, he added.

He has discussed the proposal with Borg and is sure of his commitment to adopt this proposal as soon as possible, he said. He believes that the current proposal will be crucial in the battle against tobacco related disease in Europe. It is about saving lives, protecting our citizens, and protecting our children from this killer habit, he concluded.

Mr. Tonio Borg, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy was grateful for the opportunity to discuss the proposal. The EP has been in the forefront since 2009 requesting the Commission to strengthen the EU law on tobacco products to the benefit of EU citizens. If there are economic advantages this is even better, but the main aim is about healthier living and reducing deaths.

During his hearing as Commission designate, he promised to deliver the proposal by the end of January and he managed to deliver it on December 19th. The current directive is 11 years old. New tobacco products have appeared on the market which look like lipstick for example. Tobacco should not only look like tobacco but also taste like tobacco not like vanilla or anything else, he explained. As the Minister said, these products are produced to be attractive to the young. It is below the age of 25 that people start. Electronic cigarettes have also appeared since the introduction of the current directive. In the meantime, the EU and the Member States have ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). They therefore have a legal obligation to bring EU law in line with international commitments. The Commission proposal focuses on young people. Regulators have the responsibility to protect and discourage young people from starting to smoke.

The objective is to have 2% fewer smokers in the next 5 years. In order to achieve this goal, they have to persuade young people not to start smoking and to persuade smokers quit smoking. Young people start because they think it is cool and that they can stop whenever they want. They continue smoking because it is addictive and do not manage to quit. Then 20, 30, 40 years later it translates into cancer and other diseases. That makes 700 000 people in the EU who die earlier because of smoking related diseases. That is why they need to regulate.

Showing a pink packet, with an elephant on it, or tasting or smelling like fruit, he asked the floor, would you be able to judge you are buying a harmful addictive product? Tobacco products should look and taste like tobacco products and should not be masked by fancy design, or disguised by flavour, he added.

Other issues:

The EU is not interfering with people’s choices but they aim to protect the vulnerable, the children and young people, an objective fully in line with the legal basis of the proposal.

He concluded by wishing a smooth adoption of the proposal under this parliamentary mandate.

Linda McAvan (S&D, UK) said that her aim today was to listen to speakers and colleagues. She said that the proposal was welcomed and all groups worked hard to make sure they have it in time to be dealt with during this parliament. The Minister and the Commissioner have said how important this directive is. For her, the measures proposed are good ones and she will be seeking to strengthen them from the public health perspective. She noted that some of the issues are controversial and will be discussed, such as e-cigarettes, packaging and flavouring. Finally, she concluded that as rapporteur, she will be working in the FCTC context and limit her contact with the industry to the way the convention suggests. She reminded other members that they are also bound by the FCTC in meeting with industry representatives, underlining the importance of transparency.

Karl-Heinz Florenz (EPP, DE) asked about the limitation of chemicals used. Why do you not simply ban the dangerous and toxic additives, he asked.

Frederique Ries (ALDE, BE) agreed with McAvan and thanked for her commitment. To the Minister, she said that they have best practices for public spaces in Ireland. However it is difficult sometimes to pass the subsidiarity test. As a new product, tobacco would not be allowed today, she explained. The proposal is looking at additives that make the products more toxic, maybe we should be radical here, she said.

To Minister Reilly, she asked about his strategy and what he expects from the discussion with Member states considering that some already have concerns, mentioning Poland. She concluded by saying that campaigns are needed to get to young people and women.

Carl Schlyter (Greens/EFA, SE) speaking on behalf of the Greens/EFA group said that plain packaging should be mandatory. The trade mark argument is weak and take the trade mark away from the package, he added. Measures on additives proposed are good, but he would ban any flavour. On the snus issue, he said he is one of the few Swedes who do not want to export this product across Europe. He would also like a regulation on e-cigarettes. Any kind of nicotine products must be regulated in a strict way.

On packaging, he is happy to ban small packages, slim cigarettes and other marketing toys. Point of sales advertising should be regulated as well. Every single smoker we can have stop is a good investment, he concluded.

Anna Rosbach (ECR, DK) played the devil’s advocate. Are you ready to give up the revenue from tobacco, she asked. There is some hypocrisy. National treasuries need the tobacco generated revenue (still paying devil advocate). She also wants to save people lives but the fiscal impact is to be born in mind. Nicotine based products are the problem not simply tobacco. She does not want to work only on banning, she said, let’s inform people. Is it the EU’s role to ban these products, she asked. She thinks that they need to be cautious in what they are doing.

Oreste Rossi (EFD, IT) asked whether they think that it is appropriate that there is a no smoking logo on a Commission official document. They should not to have a one sided presentation as they need to listen to all people. He has never smoked but they should not ban people from smoking. They might end up increasing illegal cigarette trafficking. 16% of cigarettes sold in the EU today are illegal. Who is checking them and guaranteeing their quality, he continued. Health campaigns are ok, but infringing on the people personal freedom is not the role of the EU. Or we should do it for alcohol and drugs, he concluded.

Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL, UK) said that there are no other products legally available on the market, which kill when used exactly in the manner the manufacturers intended it to be used. She was glad to hear that it would be an Irish priority. She associated with McAvan comments on following the FCTC guidelines. She would like to see the proposal strengthened in line with the public health perspective. She would concur with comments with regard the need of mandatory plain packaging. She stated that she and they will try to conclude the work on this proposal within the mandate.

Georgios Koumoutsakos (EPP, EL) said that the idea is to strike a balance between improving the market functioning and protecting public health. The latter is a fundamental duty and the market and competition need to work properly. Furthermore they need to stop falling into the trap of a fundamentalist approach. He made a point on slim cigarettes: if we have will of stopping smoking and we have different categories of cigarette, why are we leaving that category up.

Francoise Grossetete (EPP, FR) said on e-cigarettes, which is becoming an initiation products to cigarettes, that the proposal provides with a threshold of nicotine but this threshold is largely overcome by e-cigarettes. On flavouring: Menthol is not apparently an attractive flavour for young people. She asked for scientific data for all of this. Could we maintain these cigarettes as they are not attractive to young people?

Peter Liese (EPP, DE) thanked the speakers. He supports the proposal but said that they need time to discuss everything. Would they be ready to clarify in the proposal on the need to draw attention on passive smoking and the protection of children, he asked. At the moment it is foreseen in comitology and he asked if they could have something dealt with in co-decision.

On e-cigarettes: does this reduce the damage of tobacco. Could we take this into account?

Giancarlo Scotta (EFD, IT) said that although he agrees with the goal of the proposal to make people more aware, he asked not to forget the economic aspect that underpins the sector. We are talking about SMEs and the problem of counterfeiting. Protecting citizens should not forget the job losses. Standardised packaging will make it easier for counterfeiting and this will also harm the states revenues. We might increase the negative health impact on people with counterfeited cigarettes he concluded.

Mairead McGuinness (EPP, IT) said that it would be alarming if they were to follow what was previously said because of economic reasons. Cigarettes kill and they want EU children not to start. Let’s not say we cannot take action because of the problem of illicit trade, she stated. McAvan was correct to mention lobby activities, she concluded.

Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (ALDE, NL) supports a stringent policy toward smoking. It reflects the society changing attitudes toward smoking. Do you believe the Commission can propose stringent measures against smoking and continue to support subsidies to tobacco growers, he asked Commissioner Borg.

Glenis Willmott (S&D, UK) welcomed the proposal but it does not go far enough. She would like standardised packaging. They should have plain packaging like there is in Australia. She welcomed the ban on flavouring like vanilla. She backed the question about subsidies on tobacco growers. She concluded on smoke free working environment and said that people at work need to be able to work in smokeless areas.

Andrea Zanoni (ALDE, IT) said that the EU needs to do something to save its children and protect all citizens, the smokers and passive smokers. It needs to organise information campaigns, on TV internet and at school, so that people can make informed choices. They need to do far more than this proposal.

Asa Westlund (S&D, SE) asked why is the EU Commission not respecting the Swedish exception. If the Commission is banning additive to snus it is banning most Swedish snus and this is coming back to the exception.

Christofer Fjellner (EPP, SE) said that snus is the least harmful tobacco product and the only one banned. He asked to imagine the reactions if there were a ban of French red wine and not vodka. You had the opportunity to regulate all smokeless tobacco the same, why not, he asked the Commissioner.

Mentioning references to third countries example, he replied that they could look closer to home. Sweden and Norway have the best statistic in the world in reducing the harm of tobacco.

Róża Gräfin von Thun Und Hohenstein (EPP, PL) said that they need to protect young Europeans. But people in Poland say that the proposal is re interfering with their private life. It is creating a massive prohibition market.

Christa Klass (EPP, DE) speaking about young people said that they need to be informed. Products that are banned become attractive to people. She then asked how to prevent trade between EU and non EU countries if there is standardised package. Tobacco is legal at the end of the day, she concluded.

Gaston Franco (EPP, FR) said that yes young people smoking is a priority but let citizens do what they want. Some of those who want to legislate over tobacco are asking for cannabis legalisation, he commented. On Menthol we need objective scientific data.

Pilar Ayuso (EPP, ES) said that smoking is bad for public health but good for public coffers. However, Article 14 of the directive is not in line with the protocol for eliminating illicit trade of tobacco. Article 14 could be an opportunity to tackle this problem. Does the Commission agreed with a single code for the products that is vetted by public authorities and full information that allow real time detail on trade and circulation of tobacco products. They need information on the legal status of the products and this information needs to be available for any checks to be carried out. Would it be possible to make the necessary amendments to article 14 to deal with problems such as fraud.

Rebecca Harms (Greens/EFA, DE) said that her group welcomes the proposal. They would not question the analysis of health damage that smoking causes. They asked the committee to look at the vested interest in the tobacco market. It is an organised lobby working against the proposal. This is driven by the huge profits made through the selling of tobacco products. All these issues need to be transparent. On e-cigarettes: why should we make these cigarettes more difficult to purchase if it helps staying away from cigarettes, she asked

Matthias Groote (S&D, DE) replied on e-cigarettes, that a lot of smokers told him that it was the way for them to quit cigarette. Nicotine is not a medicinal product but perhaps it should be sold as a medicinal product. It is a difficult issue and has led to a lot of questions.

Minister Reilly thanked MEPs for the contributions. This is a big issue for some countries who have tobacco producers. Why not a ban on toxic  additives? It has been very clear that this is a compromise that does not go far enough for a lot of people including himself. But we need to go with what we have as quickly as possible. He then replied on the different question raised:

He concluded by hoping that the EP will support this initiative and will help get it through.

Commissioner Borg enjoyed the debate that showed opposing views. Some think the proposal does not go far enough and some say it goes too far. Politics is the art of the possible. They tried to propose something that would allow consensus. He has attended the competitiveness council and had question on the tobacco directive in the AGRI Council too. Let’s be careful about certain arguments, he said, before replying to the questions raised by MEPs:

2) Position of the Main Stakeholders

Ms. Florence Berteletti Kemp, Director, Smoke Free Partnership said that the EC proposal is good and fair. They are please that plain packaging is possible even if they would like it to be mandatory.

The situation is that the tobacco industry is on one side and everybody else is against. To illustrate her presentation she made an analogy with the story of David and Goliath. She explained that the tobacco industry has brought legal action against tobacco legislation. It responded massively to the consultation. The industry filed a complaint against former Commissioner Dalli that she would not comment on, but there are two facts: this is a tobacco industry complaining against the health Commissioner. The presumed innocence principle should prevail.

Goliath’s strongest weapon is to use myths and lies in order to create fear and doubts in your mind, she explained and listed a few myths carried by the tobacco industry:

1)     We have not been listened to: the industry says this because they do not like what is in the proposal. The idea is not to deny them access but transparency should be total when meetings take place. However, documents recently released show that there have been meetings between the industry and commission officials including with President Barroso cabinet when NGOs were referred back to the health Commissioner when requesting meetings.

2)     It will create illicit trade: there are evidences that smuggling has been orchestrated by tobacco companies for commercial interest. The industry rarely defines what it means by illicit trade, she added. They only refer to counterfeiting which is only one of its aspects.

3)     The industry is opposed to legislation extreme in nature and not evidence based. There is a list of 1096 pages reviewed by many experts on all measures of the TPD.

4)     The proposal will harm the economy: Either it is effective and it will harm the economy either it will not so how could it harm the economy, she remarked.

Smoking is addictive and this habit is difficult to break. Tobacco is responsible for 700 000 death per year. It costs 25,3 billion euro in healthcare and 8,3 billion in loss of productivity.

Following up with the analogy of David and Goliath, she underlined that the industry is a powerful lobby and presented the profit of the industry.

What lessons from this story: David won because he was not frightened. She hoped the EP will do. David won because he had faith. The EP has the support of the public on its side, she said. This revision is a political and controversial process. They know that at time of economic austerity measures it could be tempting to set public health aside and focus on economic measures. But this goes to the heart of the economic recovery. It can improve health and productivity of citizens and protect young people. She concluded with one question: whatever the tobacco industry will now say to you, will you believe them?

Mr. Michiel Reerink, Member of the Board of the confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers (CECCM) spoke on behalf of the CECCM. He began by saying that cigarettes are associated with serious health risk. The CECCM supports appropriate, proportionate and evidence based regulation of their industry. They do not want children to smoke and they support effective measures to prevent this. The CECCM has provided detailed submissions and expert reports to the consultation. It is a missed opportunity that only the CECCM has been invited and that other representatives have not been given the chance to share their views, he stated. His presentation said that:

He concluded by saying that they support proportionate and evidence based legislation. This proposal is neither. They proposed alternatives measures that prevent children to buy cigarettes in the consultation.

Frederique Ries (ALDE, BE) agreed with Reerink when he questions the efficiency of health warning size, that is why she asked for an information campaign. On menthol and slim cigarettes and the lack of data, she cited that studies have directly linked lung cancer to the consumption of these cigarettes. On e-cigarettes, she thought that this should be a tool to help quit smoking. The threshold should correspond to the reality and asked about it. But it should be a tool to stop. She asked Reerink about the intentions of the industry and what proves that these e- cigarettes will not become fancy to seduce those they say they do not want to seduce.

Linda McAvan (S&D, UK) turned to Reerink who said that their companies want to stop children smoking. Are you aware of the WHO study, on the health behaviour of children, she asked and presented figures. Last week they had a hearing and figures on advertising by the tobacco industry in the US were presented. What is it in the EU? She asked about the US surgeon general 2012 report on preventing tobacco use among youth and adults: the evidence points that the intentional marketing of tobacco products to young people has been the cause of young people tobacco use. Referring to the packs presented earlier, she asked who these pack are aimed to?

Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL, UK) said that the argument has been made in relation to illicit trade. There are cooperation agreements between the Commission and tobacco companies. These require the industry to pay 1,6 billion to the EU to prevent smuggling.

Renate Sommer (EPP, DE) asked if a ban on certain ingredients would be appropriate. Is the industry able to prevent illicit products from flooding the market, she asked. What do you think about the cost of the traceability system, she concluded.

Christofer Fjellner (EPP, SE) did not think that it regulates enough the addictive and harmful content of the product. When he was young and tried smoking, it was not because it tasted good but because it was cool. What is the scientific fact?

Carl Schlyter (Greens/EFA, SE) asked about manufacturers’ position on the fact of the effectiveness of pictorial warnings. He mentioned all studies that claim that it is effective and that in any case it does not cost anything.

Rebecca Harms (Greens/EFA, DE) asked how many people are employed in the CECCM. What is the budget for lobbying in Brussels? Why Reerink thinks his presence is not sufficient to present the industry views?

Commissioner Borg replied on the legal basis that yes, article 114 of the treaty is the right legal basis. This is very clear on this issue. On the US judgement, he said that they are other judgements. The Supreme Court will decide in the end, but this is a US issue not European. In those countries that have introduced health warnings, even plain packaging, there is no evidence that illicit trade has increased. The ECJ stated that the legal basis is the correct one.

Ms. Florence Berteletti Kemp said that most of the questions were not addressed to her. About the effectiveness of graphic warnings, she quoted a study on Uruguay that introduced 80% graphic warnings. In a year, there has been a reduced consumption by young people by 8 %. For the overall population it was 4,3 %. This is more than the EU objective. So it is clear that this is effective.

Mr. Michiel Reerink

Karl-Heinz Florenz (EPP, DE) asked the industry representative about the influence of advertising which he said has a small impact. So why does it exist at all?  Most of your customers are dying so you might want to get new ones, he noted.

Reerink replied that packaging does not play a role in getting people to start smoking. The same can be said about advertising but most of it is banned in the EU. They use packaging and advertising to inform consumers of the availability of their products.

Berteletti Kemp recalled that a US court judgement in 2006 ruled that tobacco companies violated federal laws by engaging in a decade long scheme to deceive the public about the danger of smoking. This highlighted, in particular, their involvement in denying that marketing affects young people.

Minister Reilly made some additional comments. He could not agree with most of what Reerink said. Why, if it does not change behaviour is the industry so afraid of it. Is the EU not justified in saving lives, reducing illness, in protecting citizens, children, health, he asked. He also asked about the measures the representative was happy to share. On action about the most addictive elements, this is addressed in the directive. He supported Berteletti Kemp on Canada: four times more smokers had expressed the wish to quit after the introduction of health warnings so that is a first step. Reerink mentioned transparency but failed to provide any information. This industry should maybe diversify into other areas. The industry seeks to replace the people who die from its products. This is a life and death issue. He appealed the MEPs to use their powers for good.

3) Specific Aspects of the Proposal: ingredients, labelling and marketing

Dr. Martina Potschke-Langer, Head of Unit Cancer Prevention in the German Cancer Research Center made a presentation on tobacco additives:

She asked for them to go as far as possible and to act now. She started with the international consensus on the ban or regulation of tobacco additives and raised the questions: Why the EU was so active on preparing the guidelines? Why should additives be banned in tobacco products? The risk is science based, and according to the tobacco industry: “Ingredients are indeed used to make cigarettes more palatable, and to reduce harshness and irritation”. This is why the industry is putting additive. It can increase the smoothness and attractiveness of products and this is an element of increased consumption, health risk and mortality.

Her presentation then looked at the role and effects of additives such as Sugar, Menthol and Liquorice. She also presented additives without flavour which are carcinogenic substances too. They increase the attractiveness of the product. She continued with tobacco products with characterising flavour and considered that these products should be banned. Currently it is really a small market so the danger is of initiation of young people. Mix of additives allows the tobacco industry to make the products more palatable, and to reduce harshness and irritation. The mixture of small amounts of several additives can have similar effects as bigger amounts of single additives. And there is no harmless threshold level for additives. Her presentation then touched upon new technologies: these are meant to enhance attractiveness. She called for a ban of all additives that may enhance the palatability, smoothness and attractiveness of tobacco products; to ban all additives that are carcinogenic in unburnt or burnt form. Moreover the EU should not set maximum levels for any additives as there are no reliable methods to define a threshold level for distinctive taste and that there are many interactions between additives with synergistic effects on palatability, smoothness and inhalation. She concluded by stating that manufacturers and importers should prove that any additive they want to use is harmless.

Mr. Luk Joossens, Advocacy Officer, Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL) made a presentation on Traceability, plain packaging and Illicit Tobacco Trade.

His presentation started on the role of the tobacco industry in smuggling. He explained the causes of the illegal tobacco trade in Europe.

He then responded to messages circulated by the industry:

He continued by presenting the new provisions brought by the FCTC protocol on combating illicit tobacco trade (not yet enforced) and concluded with recommendations with regard to the EU traceability proposals:

He added that:

Dr. David Hammond, Associate Professor in the School of Public Health & Safety at the University of Waterloo – Canada made a presentation on health warning and packaging.

Advertising and marketing have played a fundamental role in the rise of global tobacco use and shaping attitudes toward smoking. In the absence of traditional advertising, packaging has become more important. To succeed, it must reach the potential smokers as early as possible and assume the role of lifestyle advertising. He recalled the visibility of cigarette packs not only among smokers. He then presented standardised or plain packaging: Australia was the first country to implement this and New-Zealand is following the way. Dr. Hammond mentioned the court cases in Australia on plain packaging. It is today too early to assess the impact of plain packaging. There have been studies. But the best evidence comes from the industry citing confidential industry documents released through court cases. He explained the impact of packaging in reducing the harm impression. It increases the brand appeal. It is possible that it would have an impact on adults but thought it would be limited. In fact, it is difficult to address the magnitude of reduction among young people.

On the size of packs he explained that slims and super slims are among the fastest growing segment in the tobacco market. Tobacco industry research demonstrates that slim cigarettes are associated with false health beliefs and associated with an effective way to lose weight for example. They are marketed to young women and he noted that the super slim packages have the potential to distort health warnings and to reduce the impact of the health warning.

Health warnings: The tobacco industry presentation referred to a US court case, but there is case where health warnings have been upheld. Despite a lot of legal challenges against health warnings in many jurisdictions he did not have any information of a single case where health warnings were permanently struck down by a court.

The primary function of health warnings is to prevent youth initiation. There is published scientific evidence that large picture warnings have reduced smoker prevalence. He continued on the state of play with regard health warnings in different states. He noted that pictures need to remain credible. It is also important to provide supporting information.

He concluded that the effect of packaging policies are effective and summarize his presentation in four points:

Dr. Jean King, Director of Tobacco Control at Cancer Research UK made a presentation on Interference By The Tobacco Industry In Tobacco Control Policy. Her presentation touched upon why to oppose the tobacco industry, how the industry did seek to impede the 2001 directive, the lessons learnt from its tactics, what the FCTC and guidelines say and oblige to and what actions are needed from the EC and the EP.

Why oppose the tobacco industry: the industry sought to block, amend or delay key EU tobacco legislation. It has distorted the scientific process through manipulation or suppression of research, paid scientists to present a biased case. It has used front groups to make its case, lied for decades about the harm its products cause, facilitated smuggling, used additives to increase addictiveness and enhance attractiveness to children and targeted marketing at children, women and the poor.

We are not dealing with a normal consumer product and a normal industry, she said. This industry denied the harm its products causes and delayed or blocked measures to protect citizens. This is not an adult choice but an addiction starting in childhood.

The University of Bath conducted a research on how the industry sought to impede the 2001 directive. Three principal arguments were used against the directive:

There are the same arguments used again. In fact the industry can afford costly legal proceedings to delay things, she commented.

Dr. King then presented Article 5.3 of the FCTC convention that recognises that the tobacco industry cannot be dealt with as a normal partner. There are conflicts of interest between the industry and public health interests. Governments should establish measures to limit interactions with the tobacco industry and ensure the transparency of those interactions that occur. Dr. King continued on the transparency obligations of the EU under FCTC Article 5.3 Guidelines.

She finally presented actions needed by the EC and the EP:

The tobacco industry can make its submission in writing to officials and should be able to express itself, but interactions should take place under the FCTC framework. If EU institutions adopt clear guidelines it would be sending a message to the world that it puts the health of its citizens above the financial interest of an industry that has no respect for health whatsoever.

Antonyia Parvanova (ALDE, BG) thanked the experts for outlining their positions. It seems that the industry has better ideas on how to act than what is proposed in the text. She reminded everyone that tobacco kills. The Marlboro cowboy died from heavy smoking. There should not be economies on health. Following what was said, they could increase illicit trade but it would be the industry to cover the cost, and the same with the cost of healthcare. The industry does not want to increase the size of the warnings, so it should be for the industry to pay and the same for advertising. People who work in the sector should have the opportunity to re-qualify. The cost of manufacturing should be supported by the industry.

Peter Liese (EPP, DE) supported the proposal and asked for a fair approach. He asked the experts about passive smoking. The industry has raised doubts on data. He wants to put greater emphasis on passive smoking. We need to focus on the health of children or other people who do not smoke themselves. With regard to e-cigarettes nobody claims that they are good for health, he said. He received written comments that this is the way some people quitted smoking. The EU has a harm reduction policy in heroin, why not adopting a harm reduction strategy.

Renate Sommer (EPP, DE) asked the first speaker that if tobacco is that poisonous, why do we have tobacco trade then. Why has Canada not banned all tobacco products? It would be the logical conclusion. It should not be marketed and sold but it is on the market. Even in countries that have introduced stringent measures, tobacco is still on the market. Could you explain this, she asked.

To the second speaker she asked for a list of the studies mentioned.

Georgios Koumoutsakos (EPP, EL) came back on the idea of improving the functioning of the Internal Market and improving public health. Do you think it improves it or cause problems, he asked. The EP needs a logical position not a fanatical. The proposals leaves out certain provisions, on flavour, or products different from cigarettes. This is based on the fact that the use is carried out by a category of consumers, i.e. not young people. Do we see young people smoke slim cigarettes, he asked?

Julie Girling (ECR, UK) said that smoking is bad and it is not easy to give it up. Today’s discussion raised two questions and she added that she wants to take the right action. She asked about e-cigarettes, about the Canadian experience, whether there is a useful step in the health chain to help people to give up. Secondly with regard to packaging and the effect on counterfeiting (she supports no advertising): it is necessary to have space for feature to avoid counterfeiting, being only interested in the health aspect and danger of counterfeited products.

Chris Davies (ALDE, UK) said that a decade ago, the EC made no proposal for health warning and pictorial. It came from EP amendments allowing these. The EC was opposing it but they made the deal with the Council. The question is on the evidence. The industry said there is no evidence. But other said there is. Can somebody clarify?

Sophie Auconie (EPP, FR) said that it is important that the EU be courageous because everybody knows that there are 650 000 death per year in the EU, plus 50 000 death from passive smoking. These figures need to be taken into account. The EU would gain notoriety and image with an ambitious text. She is convinced the elements on the pack are not enough. They should raise the price of cigarette significantly and act on pedagogy and patches as well.

Karl-Heinz Florenz (EPP, DE) said that they need as much information as possible. He asked the industry representative about tobacco smuggling. He read serious studies saying that illegal cigarettes are made in legal factories and that legal cigarettes are becoming illegal.

Carl Schlyter (Greens/EFA, SE) said to the Canadian expert that his concern is about legal challenges and what advice he could give to avoid this.

Reerink replied to Florenz that smuggling was damaging to them. They have an agreement with the EC and under these terms, if products sold in Russia originally, are seized in the EU they pay penalties. There is a very clear incentive on top of the commercial one to prevent this to happening.

Dr. Jean King replied on passive smoking. This is the area where the industry is trying to distort the evidence and prevent government to take stronger action. They need to do as much as possible to prevent passive smoking. Bu this is not what the directive is about. On e-cigarettes they recognise that people are saying it is helpful to quit or cut down. They would like to see nicotine products covered by medicine legislation. The key concern they have is to make sure they are not marketed at young people. The WHO and the FCTC want more research on this area.

Slim cigarettes: there is evidence for young girls founding slim cigarettes attractive and feeling that it is not smoking. They are clearly marketed at young girls. They want them out of the way.

Counterfeit cigarettes being more harmful: the genuine cigarettes have up to 70 carcinogenic substances. The counterfeited one will probably not kill you quicker.

Dr. David Hammond replied that there is consensus among regulators.

Luk Joossens replied on counterfeiting. With this proposal there is a visible security feature. This is easy to counterfeit so he would advise for an invisible one. In relation to the effectiveness of health warnings, Belgium was the first country to introduce these. There is data that show that the prevalence dropped by 3% in 3 years time. The data give an indication on effectiveness.

JTI involvement in smuggling: There has been a complaint and one of the documents writes, that JTI has not complied and repeatedly infringed its obligations.

Martina Potschke-Langer said to Sommer that there are studies at national and international level on passive smoking that she can pass on.

E-cigarettes are a nebulous product. It is not a mature consumer product yet, with no quality standards. There are different rates of nicotine and forms of administration.

Linda McAvan (S&D, UK) thanked all speakers for coming today. She reminded MEPs what she said about the FCTC. She will meet with the industry but following the guidelines. Colleagues have taken responsible views and she hoped that they will bring a law forward looking at public health and preventing young people to start smoking.