SFP Press release: Tobacco tax directive review – SFP calls for more focus on health

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Brussels – The Smoke Free Partnership calls on the European Commission to recognize the importance of tobacco taxation in protecting public health in its upcoming proposal for a revision of the Tobacco Tax Directive.

SFP, along with other tobacco control and public health organisations including the SFP Coalition, responded to the public consultation launched by the European Commission regarding the potential revision of the Tobacco Tax Directive 2011/64/EC. In its submission, SFP emphasised that tobacco taxes – and consequently prices – are the single most effective tobacco control measure that helps reduce consumption and prevent smoking uptake.

In particular, SFP called for three measures that could significantly contribute to public health:

  1. The Directive should include an objective of 30% reduction in the prevalence of current tobacco use in people aged 15 years and over by 2025 in line with global commitments taken by the EU and its member states. Including this 30% target in the Directive would establish a clear criterion against which to assess the success of the Directive.
  2. Achieve upwards convergence of tobacco prices across Member States by approximating the levels of minimum excise duties towards the highest common denominator across the EU. This will help reduce the glaring inequalities in the level of health protection across the EU and will reduce the incentives for cross-border tax evasion.
  3. Align excise duties for roll-your-own and make-your-own tobacco with those of cigarettes. Currently, differences in excises between these products and conventional cigarettes undermine public health. Smokers, in particular young people, should no longer be encouraged to switch from cigarettes to cheaper tobacco products that are just as dangerous.

In addition, SFP called for a specific definition and tax category for raw and intermediate tobacco, to ensure that these products are covered by the EU control system and therefore tracked, a measure that will support efforts to combat illicit trade.

SFP Director Florence Berteletti said: “As it stands, the Directive has not met its objectives to improve the internal market or public health in the EU. We hope that the Commission will focus the revision work on ambitious public health measures that will help reduce tobacco consumption and prevent price-responsive groups such as children and young people from taking up smoking.”

The public consultation closes this Thursday 16 February. Following its results and an Impact assessment study currently under development, the European Commission is expected to publish a legislative proposal in the third quarter of 2017 for consideration by the EU Member States in the Council.

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