In an interview with Die Welt, EU health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said Europe needs to think seriously about the accessibility of tobacco products and called for full implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control by all signatories. When asked where money for preventative measures would come from, Andriukaitis said: “Consumption taxes on alcohol and tobacco, which in any case are quite low in many countries, could be increased by a Europe-wide uniform percentage, and the revenue from this increase would then flow into the EU budget.”
In saying this, the Commissioner is omitting two crucial pieces of information. Contrary to what the Commissioner says, taxes on tobacco products are not “rather low”, since the average price of a tobacco product consists of 79% of taxes in the EU. In addition, on 3 September the Commission itself released data through EuroStat which shows that tobacco prices in the EU have risen with 143% since 2001 (compared to 31% increase for all other goods and services).
ESTA Secretary General Peter van der Mark said: “The Commissioner’s proposals are only elements of language, which we keep hearing continuously. We must look at the economic reality behind tobacco taxation. Over-taxation of tobacco products, heavily penalises smaller companies, decreases government revenues and drives illegal trade. The examples of Belgium and the Netherlands have shown the need for smart taxation if only to limit the negative consequences.”