Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has welcomed the passing of a report she authored relating to the EU signing of the World Heath’s Organisation protocol on the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.
Speaking after the vote passed in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Ms Anderson said,
“I am delighted that my report passed through the European Parliament today. I would like to thank my colleagues for assisting me in this process as well as the NGOs and organisations I met whilst drafting this report.
“This is a huge step in the right direction in the fight against smuggled and illicit tobacco products.
“The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Protocol is the first internationally drafted treaty aimed at combatting and eliminating the illicit trade in tobacco products and today the European Parliament threw its support behind it.
“Illicit trade in tobacco products is defined in the WHO Protocol as any practice or conduct related to producing, shipping, receiving, being in possession of, distributing, selling or buying tobacco products and that is prohibited by law.
“The stated objective of the Protocol is the elimination of all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products.
A member of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, MEP Anderson continued;
“Tobacco products, both illicit and legal, cause unfathomable harm to the health and well-being of citizens. Smoking has recently been identified as the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature death in the north of Ireland.
“On top of this, the illicit market in tobacco products costs the north £450 million each year. The Irish border is cynically exploited by criminals for the smuggling of tobacco products and several other goods.
“Once enforced, this protocol will also see countries take control of vital tracking and tracing operations. This will make it more difficult for tobacco products to make their way into the hands of smugglers or to be sold illegally.