June 21, 2017
by Forest EU

European smokers’ group launches its Manifesto

The 10-page document tackles bans and taxes affecting smokers in Europe and considers what alternative policies should be pursued.


Brussels, 21 June 2017 – For IMMEDIATE release

Forest EU, a European smokers’ group, has published its 2017 Manifesto entitled ‘#SmokersAreCitizensToo’. The comprehensive, independent document looks through the policies affecting smokers in Europe and considers what alternative policies European governments and EU institutions should pursue.

The ten-page document designed the size of a packet of cigarettes tackles a number of issues like smoking bans, plain packaging, excessive taxation and youth education.

Forest EU’s Director Guillaume Périgois said:

One in four Europeans smoke. This represents 100m adult citizens.

Yet, across the EU, smokers are being punished and ostracised for a habit they enjoy.

This has to stop: Adult smokers should be allowed to make the informed choice to consume a legal product without excessive regulations and oppressive taxation.

Forest EU calls national governments and EU institutions to stop treating Europe’s smokers like second-class citizens, cut tobacco taxes, focus on education programmes in schools and conduct a review of the impact of the Tobacco Products Directive before any additional regulation is attempted.

Key elements:

  • Smokers represent 26% of the population in the European Union.
  • Smokers contributed €81 billion to the public budgets in excise duties in 2015.
  • In January 2017 an average of 79.6% of the price of a pack of cigarettes in the EU was duties and taxes.
  • If all cigarettes sold on the black market were sold legally, the budget of the EU and its Member States would receive above €10 billion annually.

Key conclusions:

  • Stop treating Europe’s adult smokers like second-class citizens and respect their right to make informed choices about smoking a legal product.
  • Reduce the punitive tax on tobacco and stop encouraging illicit trade. Focus on targeted education programmes  in schools to make sure children are aware of the risks of smoking from a young age.
  • Conduct an evidence-based review of the impact of the revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD2) and attempt no further legislation on tobacco before the Directive has met its objectives.

Full copy:

#SmokersAreCitizensToo

Forest EU Manifesto

Smokers represent 26% of the population in the European Union.

They are subject to a series of punitive measures, including smoking bans, display bans, grotesque health warnings and excessive taxation.

Smokers contributed €81 billion to the public budgets in excise duties in 2015.

Europe’s second class citizens

EU countries are among the most regulated places on earth in which to smoke. Smokers have generally accepted the many restrictions with good grace, but enough is enough.

By denying smokers the ability to smoke in comfort, policy makers are deliberately ‘denormalising’ smokers, trying to ostracise them from the community.

Smokers must be allowed to smoke in public places where there is no significant inconvenience to others. Public bans establish worrying precedents about the role of the state in governing people’s private lives. If we’re not allowed to smoke in a park, what’s next?

There is no evidence that plain packaging affects the number of young people smoking, which is the main reason for its introduction.

The Commission and EU governments are punishing smokers unfairly. Adults who choose to smoke have every right to do so without being under constant attack from policy makers.

CAUTION: If you don’t smoke but enjoy alcohol, sugary drinks and convenience food you should be concerned by tobacco control measures because these kind of excessive regulations are coming for your choices too.

Pricing smokers out of the market

The massive increase in tobacco taxation in recent years has been a disproportionate attack on Europe’s smokers.

In January 2017 an average of 79.6% of the price of a pack of cigarettes in the EU was duties and taxes (89.4% in Greece, 77.9% in Austria, for example).

Many smokers come from poorer backgrounds meaning those who earn the least have been hit hardest by tax increases.

Price rises are driving people who can’t afford it towards the black market.

Funding criminal gangs

Europe has some of the most expensive cigarettes in the world, but they can be bought for as little as €1.30 a pack on the black market.

Criminals don’t respect age restrictions. They will happily sell cigarettes to children.

If all cigarettes sold on the black market were sold legally, the budget of the EU and its Member States would receive above €10 billion annually.

Focus on what works

Instead of targeting adults who choose to smoke, we should focus on strategies that are proven to reduce youth smoking rates.

Targeted education programmes are needed in schools to make sure children are aware of the risks of smoking from a young age.

Tobacco taxes must be cut to reduce demand for black market cigarettes with stiffer penalties for those who sell cigarettes to children.

What we are asking for

The war on tobacco is a smokescreen for government failure in other areas. Forest EU urges policy makers to:

  • Stop treating Europe’s adult smokers like second-class citizens.
  • Respect their right to make informed choices about smoking a legal product.
  • Reduce the punitive tax on tobacco and stop encouraging illicit trade.
  • Conduct an evidence-based review of the impact of the revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD2) and attempt no further legislation on tobacco before the Directive has met its objectives.

Forest EU, Square de Meeûs 35, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Telephone: +32 2 895 36 12, Email: contact@forestonline.eu, Twitter: @ForestEU_


Note for editors:

1) For more information, please contact Guillaume Périgois on +32 4 78 98 07 43 or at gp@forestonline.eu.

2) Forest EU is an advocacy campaign informing smokers about issues that affect them in the European Union and engaging with stakeholders so the views of informed adults are taken into account within the EU’s decision-making process.