Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday 20 July 2008

Call to ban tobacco products in EU by 2025

Irish MEP Avril Doyle wants to see a ban on tobacco products across the EU within 15 years:

"I would be happy to see a long-term target date, say 2025, when it would be illegal to sell tobacco products in the EU," she said to an applauding crowd of parliamentarians and global health experts.

"That would give them 15 years' notice for all our citizens to realise just how serious we are about not allowing their continued sale in the EU, and hopefully elsewhere," she added.

She was speaking at a conference she had organised, as a member of the steering committee of the EPP, the largest political group in the EU, to discuss 'ways for the EU to comply with what anti-smoking campaigners call the most important article of the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Article 5.3, which requires its signatories to prevent lobbying by tobacco companies on any public health policies.'

The final two paragraphs of the linked article are also quite 'interesting', for what they reveal of the European Commission's long-term intentions; remember these are the people who brought us the [now defunct] EU Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty, the one which the irish people rejected in a referendum and which is somehow not quite dead yet:

Talk of banning tobacco and tobacco lobbyists came as the commission unveiled plans to make Europeans pay a lot more for cigarettes by hiking excise taxes.

The commission wants to harmonise tobacco taxes across Europe in order to discourage smoking and clamp down on smuggling.

Yes, I am broadly in favour of the EU, but these folks really have a peculiar way of trying to garner the support of my already pretty-sceptical fellow country-men/-women if the polls are to be believed!

Now, as a person who has never smoked, but is not a 'militant' anti-smoker either (that's often, I find, the province of former smokers), I have no personal stake in this and would certainly find a tobacco-free world a much more pleasant place. However, quite apart from the fact that I believe in more liberty, not less (although whether I would really wish to see the 'hard' drugs which are currently illegal become legal is something I'm not totally sure about, to be quite honest), I do wonder if Mrs Doyle and those who think like her have forgotten all they might ever have learned in their history classes at school, about how disastrous that other great attempt at banning a formerly-legal substance (alcohol) was in the US? Do we really want to see tobacco driven underground and become the province of drug-pushers, with all the crime and corruption that this causes? Tobacco is, remember, an addictive substance and people aren't just going to accept meekly the total ban she proposes, any more than those who wished to consume alcohol during 'prohibition' in the US accepted it; the [18th] amendment outlawing alcohol remains the only amendment to the US Constitution ever to have been repealed [by the 21st amendment] and that after only 14 years. No, Mrs Doyle, I doubt very much whether this utopian idea has a chance!

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