SFP strongly supports EU Ombudsman Call for Greater Accountability in Commission Interactions with Tobacco Industry
Tuesday, 18 April 2023
On April 18, 2023, the EU Ombudsman released a preliminary opinion following its own-initiative inquiry on the transparency of meetings between the European Commission with tobacco interest representatives which originated in 2020 and 2021.
The Smoke Free Partnership (SFP) welcomes the preliminary opinion of the EU Ombudsman on the European Commission's interactions with the tobacco industry.
In the preliminary opinion, the EU Ombudsman highlights multiple instances of “maladministration” in the European Commission’s approach to meeting with tobacco lobbyists.
SFP strongly supports the EU Ombudsman's preliminary findings and urges the Commission to implement the recommendations to improve transparency, record-keeping, and the assessment of "necessity" when interacting with tobacco interest representatives, to ensure that public health policies are protected from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry, in accordance with the FCTC.
SFP has long been advocating for Commission institutions to streamline provisions of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) among Commission’s services, notably on Article 5.3 on tobacco-industry interference.
SFP equally endorses the EU Ombudsman's recommendation that the Commission should assess the "necessity" of its interactions with tobacco interest representatives.
In line with the implementing guidelines for Article 5.3 of the FCTC, parties should interact with the tobacco industry only when and to the extent strictly necessary to enable them to effectively regulate the tobacco industry and tobacco products.
SFP Director Lilia Olefir commented: “This is relevant now more than ever given the current review of numerous important tobacco legislations such as Tobacco Tax Directive, General Framework for Tobacco Control and the Council Recommendation on Smoke-Free Environments.”
“It is also a pre-requisite for the achievement of the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan goal to create a tobacco-free generation where less than 5% of the population uses tobacco by 2040,” she added.
SFP has long been advocating for all departments to publish online all meetings with tobacco industry representatives and the minutes taken of those meetings, irrespective of the seniority of the official concerned.
SFP urges the Commission to implement the proactive transparency policy put in place by the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) across all departments, as previously recommended by the EU Ombudsman in 2016.
About the Smoke Free Partnership The Smoke Free Partnership is a coalition of over 50 NGOs working on the effective implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, in particular on tobacco control policy analysis and advocacy at EU level.