Focus: Brussels: Action on tobacco needs more political will

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 09 April 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:938
  1. R Watson

    Nothing better displays the contradictions in European Union (EU) policy than its attitude towards tobacco. On the one hand, the EU's agricultural policy spends 3.5m ecu ( £ 2.69m) every day supporting domestic tobacco producers. On the other hand, it allocates just 1.5m ecu ( £ 1.15m) a year to antismoking campaigns as part of its Europe Against Cancer programme. This is despite the fact that there are just 182 000 tobacco producers and, according to the World Health Organisation, 450 000 tobacco related deaths in the EU each year.

    The reasons for the imbalance are not hard to find. Farmers, and especially ministers of agriculture, are one of the most powerful lobbies in the union. Agriculture has been one of the EU's core policies, and in classic EU fashion farmers in Greece, Italy, and Spain, where most tobacco is grown, should have as equal access to union funds as …

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