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Banning tobacco ingredients means more unemployment

The Hungarian Tobacco Growers Association (MADOSZ) welcomes the outcome of last week’s Brussels event on The Future of Tobacco Growing where a member of the European Parliament called the latest World Health Organisation push to ban tobacco ingredients a “grave mistake.”

Members of the European Parliament, agricultural experts and tobacco grower associations held discussions focusing on how banning ingredients would eliminate the varieties of tobacco used to make the majority of cigarettes in Europe, cost thousands of jobs and boost cigarette smuggling without reducing smoking rates.

“More than 100,000 jobs cease to exist in the EU every month. We must not let another 300,000 be eliminated as a result of restricting Burley and Oriental blends, which account for 55% of European tobacco growing,” Hungarian MEP Csaba Tabajdi said at the meeting. Tabajdi warned that unemployment would rise primarily among disadvantaged and poorly educated people in Hungary and elsewhere in the EU. Another speaker of the event MEP Béla Glattfelder agreed that the new regulation might be considered as a serious threat to European farmers.

In a statement, Tabajdi said that the WHO plan was based on reducing the attractiveness of cigarettes by banning ingredients, even though there is no scientific method for measuring this. Tabajdi noted that while he supported a ban on flavorings that increase addictiveness and toxicity “banning all of the additives without sound scientific evidence would be tantamount to banning the Burley and Oriental tobaccos used mainly in traditionally blended cigarettes. This would be a grave mistake because there is no proof that the withdrawal of Burley or Oriental would decrease smoking and reduce harmful effects.”

MADOSZ welcomes this voice of reason and shares Tadajdi’s concerns about the likely growth in black market cigarettes that this proposal would stimulate. “If the cigarette that most smokers prefer in a country is banned, smugglers will find a way to supply it,” said Illés Bényei, chairman of MADOSZ.

An increase in the black market for cigarettes means fewer sales for shopkeepers and many other legitimate businesses. “We just represent tobacco growers but shopkeepers and other small businesses will also be damaged by the growth in black market cigarettes and so we call on them to join us and say no to this ridiculous proposal,” Bényei concluded. (BBJ Online)