The “Better Regulation” Policy of the EC widely acknowledges that interest representation (lobbying) and stakeholders’ consultation is important for law making.
CECCM and the tobacco industry are legitimate, transparent and accountable stakeholders in European regulatory debates – in the same way other companies and stakeholders are. CECCM believes that the tobacco industry is an integral partner of the EU institutions when it comes to tobacco-related legislation in the EU.
CECCM, and its three member companies, adhere to the EU interest representatives’ code of conduct and are in the EU Transparency Register (CECCM is registered under number 1496873833-97).
There are calls to exclude the tobacco industry from the democratic and legislative processes of the EU. These calls are based on the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Article 5.3 which seeks to protect the legislative process from undue influence. CECCM believes that FCTC Article 5.3 provides an opportunity to improve transparency, inclusivity and the integrity of a decision-making process – especially in conjunction with the EU and OECD principles of Better Regulation.
CECCM supports tobacco legislation as long as it is reasonable, proportionate and evidence-based. We support high quality legislation that complies with the OECD principles of Better Regulation and the European Union’s Smart Regulation agenda.
Tobacco regulation should be based on evidence that it will work. It should be demonstrated to be both necessary and appropriate to achieve clearly articulated and legitimate public policy objectives without infringing CECCM member companies’ legal rights.
CECCM is open to, and actively seeks, dialogue with governments around the world on the regulation of its members’ products and its industry. CECCM believes that it has a right and an obligation to express its points of view as any legitimate company, but ultimately it respects the judgment of governments on whether, and how best, to regulate.
The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD – 2014/40/EU) needs to be transposed into national law by May 20, 2016 at the latest. The TPD covers a wide range of regulatory issues and will have a significant impact on the industry and the entire supply chain. CECCM’s view is that:
The TPD foresees a large number of Delegated and Implementing Acts, notably on ingredient regulations and reporting, labelling, and tracking and tracing of tobacco products. This additional legislation should not go further than the TPD and should also be evidence based, prepared in an open and timely manner and the decision making process should involve involving all relevant stakeholders, including the tobacco industry.
CECCM member companies use tobacco ingredients to maintain the integrity of the product, to restore the quality of certain tobacco types after curing, to create a particular taste and flavour signature for their brands and to differentiate their products in the market. They do not use ingredients in order to encourage non-smokers or minors to smoke or to undermine the ability of smokers to quit.
CECCM rejects the notion of ‘attractiveness’ of tobacco products as a valid public policy objective against which ingredients should be regulated and believes that regulation should always be evidence-based and proportionate. ‘Attractiveness’ is an uncertain and arbitrary concept, lacking any evidential foundation. There is no reliable scientific evidence to show that tobacco additives and ingredients enhance addictiveness or that they influence smoking initiation or the ability of smokers to quit. Any decision to regulate the use of a specific ingredient should be based on a full scientific assessment of whether the ingredient increases the inherent risks associated with smoking.
The weight of the evidence supports the conclusion that the use of mentholated cigarettes compared to non-mentholated cigarettes is not associated with an increased risk of developing smoking-related disease. The 2020 EU ban on menthol will reduce consumer choice and the ability of manufacturers to distinguish their products, damage competition and impede innovation and the creation of new products. The ban will also have particular impact on certain Member States, where the market share of menthol cigarettes and therefore the tax receipts derived from their sale are relatively high, and will create further opportunities for illicit trade.
Everybody should be appropriately informed about the risks of smoking. Health warnings and other labelling requirements play a role in this respect. Increasing the size of these warnings, however, will not bring public health benefits. There are alternative options available to target specific groups with information to remind them about the health risks of tobacco products, for example via television, radio, print and online media and cinema. Such media also enable the development of specific messages likely to resonate with particular target audiences. In addition, they can reach the population as a whole, whereas warning labels on cigarette packs reach only smokers.
There is no reliable evidence that increasing the size of health warnings will have any impact on smoking prevalence. Smokers are already aware of the health risks of smoking. The size and placement of warnings and other mandated labelling should not infringe on CECCM member companies’ intellectual property rights or reduce their ability to provide information to consumers via packaging. Packaging is the means by which adult smokers identify, obtain information about and choose tobacco products, easily and without confusion.
When labelling changes are brought about, appropriate transition periods should be provided to manufacturers to allow for all required changes to be made and to enable the sell-through of products with existing health warning labels.
CECCM believes that the tracking and tracing of tobacco products helps fight the illegal trade by identifying the point of diversion from the legal supply chain. To be efficient a track & trace system should allow the tracing of products across borders and therefore any legislation should only prescribe recognized international standards and ensure that global operators are free to choose their preferred system and suppliers. This will reduce costs and guarantee free competition while offering a state of the art tool for control by law enforcement agencies.
CECCM is against the Plain Packaging of tobacco products. We believe that:
Tax levels and structures have a significant influence on the ability of Governments to achieve revenue objectives. As there are wide differences between individual countries, for instance in terms of income, affordability of tobacco products and regional sensitivities such as cross-border and illegal trade, the optimal tax levels and structures will vary across countries.
CECCM believes that Member State regulators should take into consideration all of the above factors when determining their tobacco tax policies. CECCM is against one-size-fits-all global recommendations, such as the ones advocated by non-fiscal international bodies, as this approach ignores the intricacies of European tobacco markets.
EU regulation on tobacco taxation sets the definitions and requirements for the tax structure and minimum rates. CECCM believes that future EU legislation should continue to respect the fundamental tenets of a sound tax policy, such as tax sovereignty and affordability, while allowing the Member States to take into consideration national circumstances.
Excessively high levels of tax that do not take into account the affordability of products may negatively impact tax revenue and distort the legal market. CECCM believes that policy makers need to pay close attention to the proven link between excessive taxation and increasing levels of illicit trade and the criminal activity that this encourages.
Children should not smoke. CECCM believes that the decision to use tobacco products is a choice for adults. Our members actively support appropriate penalties for retailers who knowingly sell tobacco products to minors.
The scientific literature mentions the following main drivers of youth smoking: peer pressure, parental influence, social and cultural norms, price and access. Packaging and flavourings are not among them. Plain packaging is not based on, or consistent with, a credible and scientifically rigorous understanding of smoking behavior.
We support proportionate, evidence-based measures that will prevent children from smoking. There are legislative measures available which meet accepted principles of Better Regulation and are based on credible evidence. We believe the industry and retailers have a role to play with regard to implementing effective solutions to prevent minors’ access to tobacco products. Programs supported by the tobacco industry and retailers, in cooperation with national authorities, include:
CECCM believes that distance sales of tobacco products should be regulated to prevent access to minors. Access to vending machines for tobacco products should also be strictly controlled to prevent sales to children. The use of age verification functions in vending machines is the most proportionate way of achieving this goal.
CECCM is concerned that the illicit tobacco trade has no such standards of care for youth access – in fact quite the opposite. Illicit tobacco is sold indiscriminately – undermining all the solid work of governments, retailers and our member companies.
The access to vending machines is to be strictly controlled, especially with regard to the prevention of youth access.
There are effective solutions which prevent minors from purchasing cigarettes from vending machines such as systems with electronic age verification, ID coin mechanisms and remote control.
Measures such as the criminalization of proxy purchasing and negative licensing can be effective in preventing sales to minors.
International trade rules ensure that governments treat products equally upon importation irrespective of their origin. Following importation, governments cannot treat imported and domestically produced products differently by putting in place barriers or encumbrances that would disadvantage imported products. As any other commodity traded internationally, tobacco and tobacco products are subject to these rules. CECCM strongly supports this system.
The EU is a key player in protecting and advancing international trade rules both at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and through the negotiation of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). CECCM supports these efforts of the EU as the further development of a rules-based, non-discriminatory and liberal international trading system is beneficial to the growth of the European and global economy.