• April 17, 2024

EU Lifts Limits on Cross-Border Cigarette Purchases

 EU Lifts Limits on Cross-Border Cigarette Purchases
Photo: Richard Villalon

European Union countries lifted the limit on cigarette purchases from other member states on March 29, in line with EU requirement, reports The Connexion.

Previously, the limit was one carton (200 cigarettes or 10 packs) per person. It will now be up to member states’ customs officers to determine if the quantity of cigarettes brought in are for personal use or are contraband.

While customs authorities said the change would make it easier to combat cigarette smuggling, tobacconists in high-tax countries said it would present them with unfair competition from lower-tax jurisdictions.

In February, French tobacconists and newsagents protested against the planned changes, saying they would cost them business. Cigarettes in neighboring Spain, for example, sell for only half the price of those in France due to lower tax rates.

Anti-tobacco activists have also criticized the new rules, describing them as “a win for the tobacco lobby.”

Bertrand Dautzenberg, president of the Paris Sans Tabac association, complained that Europe was prioritizing market freedoms over health.  

He said that lifting the limit was encouraging consumers buy their cigarettes in a country where they are cheaper. The message, said Dautzenberg, is that “You can now get lung cancer or a heart attack for €7 ($7.54) a day instead of €12.”

Dautzenberg said that the definition of “personal use” was now too loose because there is no official limit.

Previously, the EU directive had stated that member states could not set a limit under 800 cigarettes per person.

 Some are now calling for prices to be standardized across the EU.