Benkert

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The Benkert Group was founded in Germany, and produces cigarette tipping paper. The company is headquartered in Germany and has factories in Germany, Scotland, Malaysia, and China.[1]

Relationship with the Tobacco Industry

Supplier

Benkert has a long history with the tobacco industry, having supplied them with tipping paper as early as the 1970s.[2][3][4] In 2009, Benkert reportedly held an 18% market share in the global cigarette tipping paper market, with 85% of its revenue coming from transnational tobacco companies (TTCs).[5]

Corporate Social Responsibility Partner

In 2014, Benkert and its client British American Tobacco (BAT) Malaysia started a partnership under BAT’s Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Mentoring scheme.[6] As part of the scheme, BAT and Benkert work together to achieve certain standards of environmental, health and safety practices.

Lobbying Against Plain Packaging Regulations

On 17 May 2012, Benkert lodged a detailed response to the UK public consultation on plain (standardised) packaging, opposing this tobacco control measure.[7][8]

In addition to Benkert’s corporate response, Benkert’s staff submitted a petition signed by 131 people,[8] claiming that:

  • There was no evidence to suggest that plain packaging works
  • Plain packaging facilitated counterfeiting and an increase in crime
  • Cigarettes on the black market could be more harmful to smokers and more accessible to young people
  • Government revenue would be reduced
  • Jobs would be lost through the supply chain

No evidence was provided to support these claims.

On 20 September 2012 Benkert Malaysia submitted a response to the New Zealand consultation on plain packaging, similarly arguing that “we fear that plain packaging will not produce the desired effect. Plain packaging will worsen the current situation by posing new problems which we would like to bring to your attention”.[9]

No evidence was provided to support these claims.

Lobbying against EU Tobacco Products Directive

Benkert actively lobbied, on its own or on behalf of the Coalition for Fine Paper Industry,[10] against the 2014 Tobacco Products Directive, expressing particular concern with the plain packaging provision in the original proposal (which was later removed).[11] The company's main targets were German MEPs, including the TPD's shadow parliamentary rapporteur for the European People’s Party (EPP), Karl-Heinz Florenz MEP, and Renate Sommer MEP.[12]

Unlike Florenz who strongly supported stricter tobacco control measures, Renate Sommer was receptive to tobacco industry’s arguments. Sommer unsuccessfully tried to facilitate a meeting between Benkert and the European Commission’s DG COMP (responsible for EU competition rules). On 28 June 2012, Sommer wrote to DG COMP that she shared Benkert's concerns about the impact of plain packaging, claiming that in her constituency 400 jobs would be on the line, notably in small to medium sized enterprises.[11]

Benkert also formally supported the unsuccessful 2014 legal bid to overturn the TPD, brought before the European Court of Justice by Philip Morris International and BAT.[13][14]

TobaccoTactics Resources

Relevant link

Benkert Group website

TCRG Research

Notes

  1. Benkert Group, Benkert Goup, http://www.deutsche-benkert.de, undated, accessed January 2017
  2. C.G. Bowra, Heatfix Cork Tipping, British American Tobacco collection, 15 November 1972, Bates no. 100363836-100363837, accessed June 2015
  3. R. Baker, Product Seminar for Research Department: Friday, 28th February, 8.30am-5.30pm Sheridan Conference Room, British American Tobacco collection, 16 January 1986, Bates no. 101018854-101018953, accessed June 2015
  4. Fabriques de Tabac Reunies SA Research and Development Monthly Report September 1982, Philip Morris Collection September 1982, Bates no: 1000144971-1000145016, accessed June 2015
  5. M. Stodollick, Von Krise keine Spur, http://www.derwesten.de, WAZ, 11 January 2009, accessed June 2015
  6. British American Tobacco, Environmental management, last updated 4 May 2016, accessed January 2017
  7. Action on Smoking and Health, ASH Briefing for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health:Tobacco Front Groups & Third Party Lobbying Tactics, January 2014, http://www.ash.org.uk, accessed June 2015
  8. 8.0 8.1 Department of Health, Consultation on standardised packaging of tobacco products: Summary report, July 2013, accessed June 2015
  9. N. Sharpe, [Plain Packaging Consultation], Selangor Darul Ehsan, 20 September 2012, accessed June 2015
  10. European Commission Health & Consumers Directorate-General, Minutes of the Meeting on 6 February 2012, Brussels 20 February 2012, accessed June 2015
  11. 11.0 11.1 R. Sommer, Email to M. Rehbinder (DG COMP) dated 28 June 2012 10:38AM, Subject: Revision of Tobacco Products Directive- Request for a meeting. Email released under Freedom of Information legislation.
  12. Corporate Europe Observatory, Tobacco lobbyists all fired up ahead of key vote, 10 July 2013, accessed June 2015
  13. European Court of Justice, Reference for a preliminary ruling from the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division (Administrative Court) (England and Wales) (United Kingdom) made on 1 December 2014 – Philip Morris Brands SARL, Philip Morris Limited, British American Tobacco UK Limited against Secretary of State for Health, Case C-547/14, accessed June 2015
  14. European Court of Justice, The new EU directive on tobacco products is valid, Press Release No 48/16, 4 May 2016, accessed January 2017