An independent traceability system for tobacco products is urgently needed, according to the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) Group in the European Parliament.
But some members of the European Parliament’s health and environment committee raised objections that would have delayed the adoption of the traceability system – something that would benefit the tobacco industry.
S&D wants to guarantee full implementation by 2019.
“We have no time to waste. Nearly 10% of the global cigarette trade is illicit,” said S&D spokesperson on this issue, Gilles Pargneaux MEP. “This poses severe risks to public health due to increased accessibility and affordability. Moreover, illicit tobacco trade evades revenue collection estimated at €10bn annually in Europe.
Tobacco is one of the most smuggled commodities in the world and the profits from illicit trade feed terrorism and international and local crime, including money laundering.
“Europe will have the first regional system to trace tobacco products and will set an example for other countries to follow. Countries like Turkey and Kenya already have such a system and they have had very good results. The credibility of the EU is at stake: we have to deliver and implement an efficient system that fights illicit trade and protects public health,” said Pargneaux.
In turn, S&D spokesperson on health, Miriam Dalli MEP, explained that the track and trace system adopted by the European Union is not the perfect solution but it works well. “Objecting to only end up without a system is not an option for us. We would only be playing into the hands of those within the tobacco industry who want to gain time and delay any transparent traceability measure. We can never accept this. It is vital to have a traceability system that is fully independent from the tobacco lobby.”