The EU health Commissioner resigns causing fears to rise that the upcoming Tobacco Products’ Directive will be further delayed.
John Dalli resigns as Health Commissioner as fears rise that progress on the Tobacco Products’ Directive will halt
News broke on the 16th of October that John Dalli had resigned as EU Health Commissioner. This followed allegations made by a Swedish tobacco company that a Maltese acquaintance of the former Commissioner had sought to use his contacts to influence the Commission’s upcoming review of the Tobacco Products Directive. A report by OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud agency, claimed that Dalli did not directly participate in these events, but was aware they were taking place. The former Commissioner refutes these claims.
The Commission’s revised Tobacco Directive was due to be published in December and was widely expected to propose altering cigarette packages to make them less visually attractive and to restrict the ingredients tobacco products can use. The aim would be to discourage people, especially young people, from taking up smoking. It was also expected that the current sales ban on Swedish snus in the EU would be upheld.
Since Dalli’s resignation, EU anti-smoking lobbies have been strong in calling for the publication of the Tobacco Directive to proceed without delay. Florence Berteletti Kemp of the Smoke-Free Partnership (SFP) has said that this affair is yet another tactic of the tobacco industry in its bid to delay the publication of the legislation. Monika Kosińska, Secretary-General of the European Public Health alliance (EPHA), said that Dalli’s resignation shows how powerful the influence of the tobacco industry can be.
A caretaker Commissioner has been appointed to the Health portfolio while a new Maltese candidate, Tonio Borg, awaits formal confirmation he will replace John Dalli. Until this happens, DG SANCO (Health and Consumers) has said that no new health legislation can be issued.