• May 26, 2024

Calling for accountability

 Calling for accountability

Japan Tobacco International has described the EU’s revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD2) as ‘a raft of draconian rules that will impact consumers and businesses across the Union without meeting its intended goals’.

The comment comes on the eve of the May 20 deadline for all tobacco products on the markets of EU countries to comply with the provisions of the TPD2.

“This is yet another example of Brussels-led over-regulation,” said Ben Townsend, JTI’s EU affairs vice-president in a note posted on the company’s website.

“TPD2 will not achieve its public health goals. It will, however, stifle consumer choice and have huge consequences for local economies, jeopardizing thousands of legitimate businesses and employees, from farmers to packaging manufacturers, and tobacco producers to retailers.”

The press note said that TPD2 mandated a wide-reaching set of measures for products and packaging, including large pictorial health warnings that took up most of the pack surface – dramatically reducing the space available for product information to consumers and brand designs.

Many pack formats had been banned under the false pretext that this would drive smoking levels lower. This included the prohibition of smaller cigarette packs and fine-cut pouches, which was likely to backfire badly by forcing consumers to buy larger formats and therefore spend more money.

The Directive would outlaw also menthol cigarettes from 2020.

“TPD2 is a hugely complex, burdensome and restrictive piece of legislation,” said Townsend. “To top it off, some EU countries were encouraged to go above and beyond TPD2 requirements by introducing even more outlandish measures such as plain packaging. As a result, consumers will come across different regulations for the same product in different countries, which makes a mockery of the European Commission’s original aim to improve the functioning of the internal market”.

In a statement echoing one from Forest EU, JTI said the Commission’s initial Impact Assessment stated that TPD2 would create a two percent drop in consumption over five years to 2021, but that it had had to acknowledge that this figure was just ‘a best effort estimation’.

“TPD2 is an attack on legitimate businesses and adult consumers’ freedom of choice,” said Townsend.

“Even the President of the Commission recently said that they are wrong in over-regulating and that one of the reasons citizens are stepping away from the European project is that EU law-makers are interfering in too many domains of their private lives.

“It’s time for Brussels bureaucrats to listen; they must be held accountable when the review of the Directive is published in 2021.”