June 5, 2018
by Forest EU

Time to rethink the EU funding of anti-tobacco lobby groups in Brussels

With a self-declared lobbying budget of €5 to €6 million, 94 lobbyists from 24 different organisations operating in Brussels are pushing for more pervasive anti-tobacco policies – 13 of them received €6 million in subsidies from the European Commission in 2016.

BRUSSELS, June 6th 2018 – A new paper, released today by the smokers’ lobby campaign Forest EU, shines a light on the extensive network of anti-tobacco lobby groups in Brussels and how the European Commission funds them with taxpayer’s money to achieve their own policy goals.

Commenting on the report, Guillaume Périgois, Director of Forest EU, said:

“The report identifies at least 24 different organisations operating in Brussels pushing for more pervasive anti-tobacco policies. These organisations are staffed with 94 lobbyists and have a self-declared lobbying budget of between €5 and €6 million as per the EU Transparency Register. Far from David vs Goliath, it’s Goliath vs Goliath.”

Continuing, Mr. Périgois stated:

“The report also sets out how in 2016 €6 million of EU taxpayer’s money was channelled to these organisations by the European Commission to lobby in favour of policies which the Commission has put forward. For us, such funding amounts to Government lobbying Government and does not promote transparent policy making”.

Commenting on the use of EU taxpayers’ money to fund lobby groups, Michael Jäger, Secretary General of the Taxpayers Association of Europe (TAE), said:

“You don’t have to like smoking to see there’s a problem with the European Commission giving taxpayers’ money to NGOs who then use that money to lobby the Commission.

Mr. Jäger added:

“With the EU budget under increasing pressure it doesn’t make sense for the Commission to spend public money like this. It is as much budget lost to directly advance better public health in Europe.”

In conclusion, Mr. Périgois stated:

“We make several recommendations in the report. For example, we believe a clause should be included in all new and renewed Framework Partnership Agreements and grant agreements that will limit the ability of fund recipients to utilise funds received for lobbying activities and instead to focus on the delivery of concrete health outcomes”.


Note to editors:


  • For more information, please contact Forest EU Director Guillaume Périgois at gp@forestonline.eu or on +32 4 78 98 07 43.



  • Forest EU is a campaign that informs smokers about the issues that affect them in the European Union and engages with stakeholders so the views of informed adult smokers and non-smokers with an interest in tobacco policy are considered within the EU’s decision-making process.


  • Forest EU is supported by the Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers (CECCM) whose members are Japan Tobacco International (JTI), British American Tobacco (BAT) and Imperial Brands PLC (IMB), and by the members of the European Smoking Tobacco Association (ESTA). Our annual budget in 2018 is €165,000.


  • Forest EU has an independent organizational structure and advocates for the consumer, not the tobacco industry. Forest EU accepts there are serious health risks associated with smoking tobacco and does not, through its campaigning activities, seek to promote or encourage it.