Glasgow MP And MEP Team Up To Stub Out EU Tobacco Subsidy

25 February 2010
John Mason, SNP MP for Glasgow East and SNP MEP Alyn Smith have today tabled an early day motion in the House of Commons calling on the EU to stub out tobacco subsidy. A Holyrood motion has also been lodged.

The continuing subsidy by the European Union of tobacco cultivation is costing taxpayers £260 million a year. Consequentially, Alyn Smith 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:

"Subsidising tobacco equates to subsiding the cause of cancer it's asstraightforward as that and it has to stop. I'm not against agricultural subsidy, but it should go to crops with a nutritional or environmental benefit, not tobacco.

"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 it is throwing 260m Euro into one of the biggest culprits of health deficiency. This seems a huge contradiction to me and that is why I have launched the petition on my website."

Mason said:

"Europe is in the middle of a serious economic downturn, arguably the most severe to hit the continent since World War II. Spending over a quarter of a billion pounds on susidising tobacco production would behard to justify at the best of times, but in the midst of a recession it is utter madness.

"There are 1001 better ways in which these massive sums could be spent. In fact, diverting even a small proportion of the overall subsidy to economic developments projects in the East End would make all the difference to communities in my constituency."