The European Union has decided to end its longtime partnership with Philip Morris International. The controversial $1.255 billion partnership was initially set up in order to combat the issue of tobacco smuggling in the free-flowing continent. Many perceived this partnership to be unnecessary legitimization of a corrupt industry by the EU.
Now, finally, the EU has decided to wise up to this colossal mistake in judgment.
The Financial Times consulted tobacco control expert Luk Joossens, who has been lobbying against the EU working with tobacco companies for years. He said that, “There is always suspicion from other countries because the EU collaborates with the industries.”
He is right, and hopefully this move is a sign of things to come. The EU should know that collaborating with tobacco companies to “fight” issues within their industry is profoundly counterproductive. And such counter measures end up costing the European taxpayers billions at their own expense.
I expect and hope that the EU will continue to down the path they have started and reject working with companies- especially tobacco companies- to regulate their own industry. Among the EU’s first prerogatives should be to avoid any conflict of interest.
That goes well for Codentify. As we know, Codentify is a deeply flawed system that was actually developed by the tobacco companies themselves. Not only is their involvement an issue, but the technology itself is dramatically subpar, and will do nothing to prevent more smuggling. If anything, it might just increase it (and the companies will benefit).
Cigarette smuggling has been a major issue in Europe for some time. Not only is there a major circumvention of tax revenue through illegal sales, but the lack of monitoring can prove harmful for the average smoker, since no government officially oversaw the ingredients in the cigarette.
The EU has long been considering Codentify as their new mandated track-and-trace system for smuggling. Many tried to counter the controversy by pointing to its recent sale to Enexto, which some claim to be a legitimate third party.
But, alas, this is only a front to keep the power in the hands of the tobacco industry.
At any rate, it’s incumbent on the EU to reject Codentify outright and find a more suitable-and neutral-track and trace system to regulate tobacco smuggling. And these new signs of the EU backing off from Big Tobacco are a sight for sore eyes.
Let’s hope the EU pushes the envelope, and rejects capitulation to Big Tobacco. With that, European citizens can be secure in the fight against illicit cigarette sales.