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ASH Ireland welcomes European Commission decision not to renew or extend the controversial agreement with tobacco multinational Philip Morris International (PMI) on tackling the illicit tobacco trade.

07/07/2016

ASH Ireland welcomes yesterday’s (Wednesday) decision of the European Commission to reject renewal or extension of the PMI Agreement with the EU, beyond its current date of expiry – July 9, 2016.

The decision sets a milestone in the fight against illicit tobacco trade. It facilitates the allocation of resources and efforts for implementing more adequate measures as the set out in the global W.H.O. Protocol on eliminating the illicit trade in tobacco.

The PMI Agreement was signed 12 years ago, after the EU brought legal proceedings against the tobacco company for cigarette smuggling. It was intended to end PMI’s complicity in illicit tobacco trade, and introduced annual payments to the EU and its Member States, as well as fines when genuine PMI products were seized in illicit channels.

It was the first of four similar agreements signed with each of the major tobacco companies. After the Commission released a Technical Assessment on the January 24, 2016, which showed `no direct causality` between the PMI Agreement and decreasing numbers of PMI illicit cigarettes, the European Parliament also voiced its opinion, voting for a resolution against any renewal or extension on the  March 9, 2016. It is now clear to all involved in the fight against smoking that the tobacco industry must have no role in self monitoring an industry, which is essentially about profit and the marketing of a product which kills 50% of its users.

ASH Ireland made representations on this specific matter earlier this year on this matter to all Irish MEPs who supported the termination of the PMI agreement.