Cutting smoking saves more in health bills than lost tax, EU says

The cost and health benefits of getting people not to smoke and better still, not to start, more than outweigh the taxes the tobacco industry pays to governments, the European Commission said Monday.

Irish James Reilly, presenting the EU's new draft tobacco law in the , said smokers paid some 20 billion euros ($26.4 billion) annually in tax but associated with smoking came to 23 billion euros.

On top of that were another eight billion euros in lost production and other costs due to smokers' higher rates of sickness, leading to days off and lower efficiency.

It is a "no-brainer, ethically and economically," Reilly told parliament, dismissing out of hand the argument that tobacco is too important economically to be tampered with.

EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg made the same point, noting that some 700,000 people die prematurely as a result of smoking each year—equal to a city about the size of Frankfurt in Germany.

The new tobacco directive, which parliament and all 27 member states will have to approve, aims simply to save those lives, Borg said, adding that the legislation needed to be brought up to date as the industry introduces new products, especially those targeting the young.

"Tobacco should look and taste like tobacco," Borg said, holding up new products brightly coloured and looking like lipstick or perfume so as to attract younger people.

Accordingly, the directive stipulates that 75 percent of a cigarette package must carry , and that certain "characterising" flavours such as vanilla or menthol be banned.

"My aim is that when people look at a tobacco product they realise that it will damage their health," Borg said.

In January, thousands of tobacconists from across Europe marched on European Union headquarters to protest against the planned directive which will take about three years to come into effect once passed.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Europe's tobacconists march against EU smoking crackdown

Jan 22, 2013

Thousands of tobacconists from across Europe marched on European Union headquarters on Tuesday to protest against a planned EU crackdown on smoking that includes grueseome health warnings placarded on packets.

Swedish Match says EU bribes totalled 60 million euros

Oct 19, 2012

Tobacco producer Swedish Match claimed Friday it was offered the opportunity to pay 60 million euros ($78 million) to thwart new EU tobacco legislation in a scandal that has cost Europe's top health official his job. ...

Australia cigarette pack branding ban moves closer

Aug 25, 2011

Australia's parliament has passed two bills moving the nation closer to becoming the first to introduce plain cigarette packaging in a move Health Minister Nicola Roxon Thursday called "courageous".

Recommended for you

Drink up for exercise, but not too much

51 minutes ago

With students heading back to school, fall sports are in full swing. In addition to training, eating right, and getting enough sleep, a significant key to health and performance is staying hydrated. However, the recent tragic ...

Gang life brings deep health risks for girls

1 hour ago

Being involved in a gang poses considerable health-related risks for adolescent African American girls, including more casual sex partners and substance abuse combined with less testing for HIV and less knowledge ...

Steer clear of dietary supplements for concussions: FDA

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)— As the fall sports season starts and young players face the risk of concussions, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that dietary supplements that claim to prevent, treat or cure concussions ...

Venezuela battles obesity amid dearth of good food

5 hours ago

Venezuela's socialist government is sounding the alarm about growing waistlines in a country where record food shortages are making it harder to put healthy meals on the table, prompting many people to fill ...

User comments