MEP Campaign To Stub Out EU Tobacco Subsidy

08 February 2010
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today lambasted the EU for spending 300 million euro subsidising tobacco crops, which produce a product which kills an estimated 650,000 people a year.

The MEP has written to the EU Commissioner-Designate for Health, John Dalli, and EU Commissioner-Designate for Budget and Financial Programming, Janusz Lewandowski, calling for their support to end the payments, and has also launched a petition on his website (www.alynsmith.eu) which calls for an end to the subsidy.

Smith said:

"I'm not against agricultural subsidy, but it should go to crops with a nutritional or environmental benefit, tobacco is objectively an exception. Tobacco is the single largest cause of avoidable death in the European Union accounting for over half a million deaths each year and over a million deaths in Europe as a whole. In light of these harrowing figures, the EU is pouring money into improving health but at the same time are throwing 300m euro into one of the biggest culprits of health deficiency. This seems a huge contradiction to me.

"I have written to John Dalli, new EU Commissioner-Designate for Health calling for his support in stopping this line of support and also to Janusz Lewandowski, Commissioner-Designate for Budget and Financial Programming, arguing that continuing this form of support in times of economic strife is appalling.

"If you too feel passionate about this issue then please add your name to my online petition on this website."

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland, commented:

"Alyn Smith is to be congratulated for highlighting this issue. It is ironic that whilst the EU promotes an end to the harm caused by smoking and has a treaty obligation to ensure all policies contribute to human health, they also subsidise the growing of tobacco. Tobacco causes 13,500 deaths in Scotland andmore than 500,000 within the EU every year. Instead of subsidising tobacco, the money would be better spent on smoking prevention and cessation."