Speaking in Strasbourg this morning on the proposed Tobacco Products Directive Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for stringent regulations to combat the increasing death toll and health damage caused by these products.
Welcoming the opportunity to address the issue Martina Anderson said:
“Although the large tobacco companies and their well-resourced lobbyists can lay claim to many victories in their delaying tactics over the course of this directive we are finally at the stage of voting on this crucial legislation which could help protect generations of young people.
“It is obvious that the profit driven aims of the tobacco industry can never be reconciled with those of public health.
“It is estimated that the measures proposed by this directive would reduce after 5 years the number of people smoking by 2.4 million. It would result in a net increase of 2,243 jobs created due to increase disposal income spent on other goods and services. It would have a beneficial impact on the 20% most deprived areas in our constituencies where the rate of smoking-related deaths are double that of more affluent areas.
“Without doubt the amount of lobbying by tobacco companies reached unprecedented levels – despite some of the “goodies” sent to me by the industry to try and influence my vote, I will vote to save lives and to deliver for those constituents of mine who are anxious to see new tobacco control measures implemented – not in the vested interests of the Tobacco Industry .
“In Europe each year, the total deaths caused by road accidents, drugs, murder, suicide and accidents at work – do not come up to a fifth of those caused by tobacco. 700,000 of our constituents die every year as a result of tobacco-related diseases.
“That’s 700,000 – mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and children – some of them relatives, yet, there are MEPS who still find it difficult to vote in favour of public health measures to combat these avoidable and unnecessary deaths.
“This legislation would provide necessary and effective measures to drastically reduce the number of deaths and relieve the pressures on public health resources.
“Picture and text health warnings, banning characterizing flavours like chocolate, bubble-gum and vanilla and a ban on slims will prevent such attractive gimmicks being used by the tobacco industry to get children and young people addicted to their deadly product.”