New tobacco control law: Little to celebrate in Germany

15 Mar 2016

The new Tobacco Products Directive will then come into effect in May as specified.

German politicians are celebrating this as a great victory in the fight against tobacco use and congratulate themselves for resisting the tobacco industry’s lobbying pressure. Well, it is a victory, but not for German politicians, or for public health in Germany.

Massive interference

Since its first draft appeared in June 2015, the bill has been massively changed due to tobacco industry interference: 

  • The first draft aimed at combined health warnings for all tobacco products. The new law will make exceptions for cigars and pipe tobacco.
  • The first draft aimed at an immediate ban of menthol. A ban on menthol is now postponed until 2020.
  • The first draft aimed at applying the new rules to all tobacco products produced in Germany. The new law will allow exceptions for products that will be exported to non-EU countries.
  • And finally, the first draft aimed at an immediate ban on outdoor advertising of tobacco products. This was completely removed: an outdoor advertising ban is now scheduled for 2020.

In other words, Germany will do what it has to do according to the TPD 2 and won’t go any further. Before a coming TPD 3 might call for it, Germany will probably not introduce a display ban, a ban on advertising at points of sale, a ban on brand stretching, a ban on tobacco industry sponsorship and plain packs.

Industry before public health

German politicians still put the industry’s interests above public health. During the parliamentary debate one of these politicians expressed it this way:”Only few people know, that 65 percent of all cigarettes consumed in Europe are produced in Germany – in German factories according to German standards, by German workers – and analysed in German laboratories. I don’t want this to change.”

There really is not much to celebrate in Germany when it comes to tobacco control.

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