Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission
On 19 December 2012 the Commission adopted a proposal to revise the Tobacco Products Directive(1). The proposal is accompanied by a thorough analysis of the economic, market, social and health impacts. The Commission has carried out extensive stakeholder consultations and has carefully considered the concerns expressed.
Regarding the first question, the Commission has calculated the expected effects of the proposed measures in a dedicated part of the impact assessment(2). Based on a possible drop in tobacco consumption of 2% in five years after the entry into force of the directive, it is estimated that 5 700 jobs would be lost in the tobacco sector. However, this would be compensated by the creation of approximately 8 000 new jobs in other sectors that would result from consumers' increased expenditure in other goods or services. People who stop smoking are expected to use their ‘cigarettes budget’ to buy other goods and services that require more workers than the automated production of cigarettes.
Under the proposal, production of slim cigarettes to export to third countries remains possible.
Regarding the other two questions, tobacco remains the largest avoidable health threat in the EU, responsible for almost 700 000 deaths in the EU every year. Approximately 50% of smokers die prematurely and on average 14 years earlier than non-smokers. From a health perspective, the directive aims at discouraging young people from starting to smoke, taking into account that 70% of smokers start below the age of 18. As such, tobacco products are not in any way comparable with other products on the market with possible health effects.