Credit: Photo: Flip Franssen

Tobacco industry interferes with Dutch anti-smoking agreement

By Tim Luimes, Ties Keyzer, Sergio Nieto Solis, | 30 September, 2020

Research by The Investigative Desk has shown that the tobacco industry, by using its contacts in the biggest party in the Dutch government coalition, has successfully tried to mitigate multiple anti-smoking measures in the 2018 Dutch National Prevention Agreement. The arguably most effective measure – a substantial increase in tobacco excise duties – has become uncertain.

The signing of the Dutch National Prevention Agreement in November 2018 should have been a big step towards a smoke-free generation. Paul Blokhuis – the Dutch State Secretary of Health – spoke of a ‘historic agreement’. In compliance with the FCTC anti-lobby treaty, the tobacco industry had not been invited to the negotiating table. Research by The Investigative Desk has shown that the industry nevertheless  managed to weaken the most important anti-tobacco measures in the agreement.

The tobacco lobby used its contacts in the main Dutch coalition party, VVD. Just days before the signing ceremony the signatories – some seventy health care organizations and anti-smoking groups – were told that the number of measures had to be weakened in order to acquire enough political support. As a result, a significant increase in tobacco excise duties – generally accepted as the most effective tobacco control measure – has become uncertain. Also, tobacco stores and small tobacco sales points have been excluded from the so-called display ban, while e-cigarettes and cigars are exempted from the plain packaging obligation for at least a couple of years.

Due to the mitigation and delay of these anti-tobacco measures, the main goal of the National Prevention Agreement, which is to reduce the percentage of smokers to less than 5% of the adult population and to 0% among juveniles below 15 in 2040, seems unfeasible.

Read the full story (in Dutch) at Follow the Money


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