© 2022 European Smoking Tobacco Association
ESTA members manufacture fine‑cut tobacco, pipe tobacco, traditional European nasal snuff and chewing tobaccos in 10 Member States and export their products across the entire world. Skilled craftspeople expertly apply age old techniques, perfecting the mixture of dozens of varieties, tastes, smells and flavours, continuing a centuries‑old tradition of fine European heritage. Up to the end of the last century, the manufacture of tobacco in Europe encompassed hundreds of small producers creating thousands of signature products. Over the past 30 years, smaller firms have been acquired by larger multinational companies or have ceased activities altogether, leading to employment reductions and the disappearance of traditional brands. In the manufacturing countries, tobacco production is often rooted in less advantaged regions and plays locally a key economic and social role. It deserves protection and at the minimum should be considered when developing regulation.
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The EU is characterised by a very diverse and flexible excise structure, which allows each Member State to set a balanced taxation of tobacco products respecting its national circumstances, interests and objectives. Last year, excise revenues from smoking tobacco increased across the EU, even though sales declined. This clearly demonstrates the efficiency of the current flexibility left to national governments and that a “one size fits all” approach should not be considered. The few Member States (e.g. France, Netherlands) casting economic theory and the tax-bearing capacity of smoking tobacco aside had adverse effects with declining revenues whilst sales increased.
An obvious correlation exists between the highest levels of illegal and non-domestic consumption (e.g. France, UK, Ireland, Poland and Finland) and the highest taxation rates applied to fine-cut toconsbacco, in comparison with cigarettes. The figures clearly show that any alignment of tobacco taxation, regardless of the products’ specificities, will prevent fine-cut tobacco from fulfilling its buffer function, leading to increased illegal trade of cigarettes and driving down government revenues.
Read more about the relationship between tax and illegal trade