This blog was first posted on UKIP Daily.
You may have been amazed to hear plans of a tax hike from Brussels which will send the price of e-cigarettes sky-high. You would think not even the EU Commission is mad enough to consider such a policy in the run up to the EU referendum when Brussels is trying to be on its best behaviour… but you would have to think again.
A decision ratified by EU finance ministers this week means the 2.2 million members of the Great British Public – and the Europeans as well – who currently use e-cigarettes, can look forward to a 77% tax rate on their purchases. This will bring vaping – the smoker’s option accepted as the healthiest by many experts – into the same tax bracket as cigarettes and cigars.
Looking a little deeper into the decision, it becomes clear the European Union only has its own bank balance in mind. It is simply not bothered about the cost to public’s health.
We often hear stories of lobbyists in Brussels determined to push their own agenda – as there’s a great deal of money at stake – but the tobacco industry takes this to a whole new level.
In 2014, The Tobacco Products Directive was amended solely to suit the demands of the tobacco lobby. This Directive was labelled the most lobbied dossier in the history of the EU.
Philip Morris International is one of the major tobacco companies spending a huge amount of money on lobbying the European Union. In 2013 alone, it was reported, the company spent €5 million and used 200 lobbyists to prevent sections of the Tobacco Products Directive from becoming legislation.
It seems when it comes to the European Union money can buy you anything.
With medical experts encouraging the use of e-cigarettes, it can be assumed the profit margins of tobacco companies across the continent are shrinking fast. In 2014 alone, around 900,000 people used e-cigarettes in an attempt to quit smoking. The number of tobacco cigarettes sold in the European Union is expected to decrease from 450 billion currently sold to 375 billion by 2021.
It seems as though the tobacco lobbyists have been up to their old tricks again. They do not like the competition as the tobacco industry is now losing so much money.
It’s now the case of the EU deliberately encouraging smoking – a habit which costs the NHS between £2.7 and £6 billion every year – in return for cash from unaccountable and unelected lobbyists sent from around the globe to influence the European Union.
Many people are not even aware these lobbyists exist, but whilst we are under the thumb of Brussels, there is nothing we can do to get rid of them. They will continue to impact on all aspects of our everyday lives.
Also, it is interesting to point out that it’s only the tobacco lobby which has access to the EU Commission. The anti-tobacco lobby has no access at all!
Recently it has been discovered that the European Commission has refused to curb lobbying by the tobacco firms, by not fully applying transparency rules created by the United Nations. The UN’s World Health Organisation bans public policy makers from fraternising in secret with tobacco firms under the so-called Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Last month the EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said the Brussels executive ignored her recommendations to fully publish all details of meetings with tobacco lobbyists or their legal representatives. This was an attempt to try to push the EU into some kind of transparency – but Brussels continues to ignore the advice given to them and refuses to let the public see all details. Money into EU coffers is at stake here!
This means tobacco lobbyists can exert pressure or influence freely and without any scrutiny by the public.
The Great British Public are starting to see the European Union for the undemocratic institution it really is. Not only is the EU controlled by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, but also by these lobbyists many people on the street did not even know exist or have so much influence.
No-one holds these lobbyists to account and we can never get rid of them if we remain in the EU. The EU demonstrates once again it is there for the benefit the huge companies and institutions who can afford to spend millions of pounds to twist the laws in their favour. This is yet another reason why we must Get Britain Out of the increasingly undemocratic EU.