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The European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT) represents 120 trade unions and the interests of 2.6 million employees and workers across the European Union (EU).1

Links to the Tobacco Industry

EFFAT stated in 2014 that it does not receive any funding from tobacco companies and does not have any tobacco companies as members.2 However, some of its members represent tobacco industry employees. For example, Unite, the UK’s largest trade union and an EFFAT member,3 It 2019 it stated that it represents a large proportion of the workers of Japan Tobacco International, Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco in the UK.4

Part of Philip Morris International’s “3rd Party Coalition”

Leaked internal documents from Philip Morris International (PMI) revealed that EFFAT’s TPD lobbying activities were part of a larger, comprehensive and well-financed PMI campaign to block certain policy options that were particularly threatening to the tobacco industry.5 As part of its campaign, PMI mobilised what it referred to as a “3rd party coalition”6 of seemingly independent interest groups that could add weight and credibility to pro-tobacco arguments. Importantly, PMI considered this third party involvement “key to success” in their efforts to undermine the TPD.7
EFFAT, together with UNITAB and Fetratab, were earmarked by PMI to garner political support for pro-tobacco views from non-health Commissioners and Commission departments.8 Image 1 shows an element of PMI’s strategy involving the three-party coalition. It was intended that the coalition would seek meetings in the second half of 2011 with the Cabinet of EU President Barroso, and Cabinets of EU Commissioners across several jurisdictions, e.g. Trade (Hahn), Employment Social Affairs and Inclusion (Andor), Agriculture (Cioloş), and Health (Dalli).

Image 1. EFFAT’s presence in PMI’s ‘Ingredients Platform’ to oppose the TPD, presentation slide snipped from PMI TPD Core Team meeting presentation 14 September 2011, Leaked in 2013

It is important to note that PMI is not the only company to engage in such tactics. The tobacco industry has a long history of using the Third Party Technique to subvert public health policy.

Lobbied Against the EU Tobacco Products Directive

EFFAT lobbied against the EU Tobacco Products Directive Revision (TPD), which regulates the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco in the EU and came into force in May 2014 following a 5-year long review marred with controversy and delay. A European Parliament spokesperson described the TPD as “the most lobbied dossier in the history of the EU institutions”.9

Of the various tobacco control measures proposed in the TPD, EFFAT most strongly objected to the ingredients ban and plain packaging (which was later omitted from the TPD proposal), and to a lesser degree the EU snus sales ban.

Arguments Against Plain Packaging Echo Industry Arguments

The main arguments EFFAT used to oppose regulation like plain packaging mirrored classic arguments Transnational Tobacco Companies (TTCs) have used to oppose unwanted regulation for decades. These included:

*It will increase illicit tobacco trade; 10 11

*It will result in lower EU prices for leaf tobacco, leading to significant job losses;

*Packaging simplification will result in the automatisation of the processing industry, leading to further job losses;

*Competition will no longer be on the level of brands (i.e. the tobacco manufacturers), but shift to the tobacco processing industry.12

Arguments Against the Ingredients Ban

To oppose the proposed Ingredients Ban, EFFAT argued:

*There is a need to add sugar without losing the flavour of European tobacco. Such a ban would result in the end of European tobacco, and an increase in imported tobacco;

*Considerations of ‘attractiveness’ and ‘addictiveness’ of ingredients are subjective and not based on scientific evidence;

*It will increase illicit tobacco trade.

Arguments Against the Snus Sale Ban

When opposing the ban on snus sales, EFFAT claimed:

* Lifting the ban would provide an additional outlet for European tobacco;

* Should the ban be lifted, over 2000 jobs will be created in Sweden alone;

* The ban is no longer supported by scientific evidence.

Criticised the TPD’s Impact Assessment Process

In 2009, the European Commission (the Commission) contracted RAND Europe to carry out a preliminary study to assess the impact of revising the original 2001 TPD. RAND’s final report was heavily criticised by the tobacco industry and other interested parties, including EFFAT.
In a December 2010 submission to the Commission,13 EFFAT challenged RAND’s methodology and conclusions and criticised the Commission’s impact assessment process for being too narrowly defined, stating that it “should be based on scientific evidence, figures and facts, as well as on the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity”.

Lobbied Non-Health Departments of the European Commission: Agriculture, Trade and Regional Policy

Documents released under freedom of information (FOI) legislation confirm that EFFAT, UNITAB and Fetratab jointly lobbied non-health Commissioners and their Cabinets as early as March 2010 (when the revised TPD was in the early drafting stages):

* In March 2010, following the appointment of the Barroso II Commission, the coalition approached the new Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Cioloş, expressing their hope that the Commissioner would agree to meet with them to listen to tobacco growers’ concerns, although the TPD was not mentioned specifically. 14 A meeting with the Commissioner’s Cabinet was arranged for 27 April 2010, although no minutes have been released.15

*Consistent with PMI’s strategy (Image 1), EFFAT, Unitab and Fetratab met with senior staff of the Commission’s DG Trade on 8 September 2011 to express their opposition to the ingredients ban and plain packaging. In regard to the former, they voiced their concern about a ban on sugar as additive, but “they could however agree to the ban of menthol and candy ingredients/cigarettes”.

*In the same month, PR company C& I (Communications and Institutions) arranged a meeting between EFFAT and its partners with the Cabinet of the Agriculture Commissioner 16 who reported that “The representatives of the tobacco business repeated their usual requests and arguments” on plain packaging, the ingredients ban, and the snus sales ban.

*In October 2012, ahead of the adoption of the TPD proposal by the College of Commissioners, the coalition wrote to the Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, stressing the “potential negative social and employment implications” of the proposed TPD, claiming that it “would result into a heavy cost that would hit hard precisely some of the most vulnerable EU regions”, stressing that these consequences have not been included in the TPD’s Impact Assessment.

* In October 2013, in response to the TPD vote in the Parliament earlier that month, EFFAT, Unitab and Fetratab wrote to the Wine Alcohol and Tobacco Unit in the Commission’s department responsible for Agriculture (DG AGRI), to challenge the Parliament’s decision to have a positive list of authorised additives to be developed by the Commission.17

EU Transparency Register

EFFAT has been listed on the EU Transparency register since February 2009. It has since disclosed that, for the 12 month period between January and December 2013, it spent between €1.25- €1.5 million on lobbying activities, which includes a variety of subject matters including “Public health”.18
According to Lobby Facts EU, EFFAT spent similar amounts on lobbying in 2014 and 2015, but this figure fell significantly to below £200,000 per year in 2016, 2017 and 2018.1920

TobaccoTactics Resources

External Resources

EFFAT’s website

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  1. European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions, Mission, EFFAT website, undated, accessed July 2019
  2. E. Brentnal, Funding enquiry. Email reply from EFFAT Political Secretary for the food, drink and tobacco sector, dated 17 June 2014
  3. EFFAT, Members, EFFAT website undated, accessed November 2014
  4. Unite the Union, Drink and Agricultural, Unite website, undated, accessed July 2019
  5. S. Peeters, H. Costa, D. Stuckler et al, The revision of the 2014 European tobacco products directive: an analysis of the tobacco industry’s attempts to ‘break the health silo’. Tobacco Control Published Online first 24 February 2015
  6. Philip Morris International, EU Tobacco Products Directive Review 17 August 2012. Presentation slides leaked in 2013
  7. Philip Morris International, Stats File. Predicted committee voting outcomes and committee coverage information. Leaked in 2013
  8. Philip Morris International, PMI TPD Core Team Meeting, 14 September 2011. Presentation slides leaked in 2013
  9. N. Corlett, ALDE Priorities for the week of 23 Sept 2013, Parliament Agenda 23 September 2013, accessed September 2013.
  10. European Commission Cabinet Commissioner of Agriculture Ciolos, Meeting report of the Cabinet’s meeting with representatives of the European tobacco business Bruxelles 20th September 2011 11hr, accessed November 2014
  11. H. Wiedenhofer H, L. Wojciech, F. Vedel, Letter to European Commissioner for Regional Policy Mr Johannes Hahn, Ref: Social and employment concerns related to the forthcoming review of the Tobacco Products Directive 2001/37/EC and to the Common Agriculture Policy Reform, Brussels 11 October 2012, accessed: November 2014
  12. European Commission DG Trade, Meeting with tobacco processing industry 8 Sept 2011. Meeting notes released under freedom of information, accessed October 2014
  13. European Federation of Food Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions, EFFAT Submission to DG SANCO on the Public Consultation on the RAND Report and on the Revision of the Tobacco Products Directive 2001/37/EC. 2010, 1 December 2010, accessed September 2014
  14. F. Vedel, C. Sachetto, P. Pellegrini, Letter from Unitab, Fetratab and EFFAT to Commissioner Dacian Ciolos dated 4 March 2010, accessed October 2014
  15. A. Catalao, Email from Cabinet Ciolos to Unitab dated 18 March 2010, accessed November 2014
  16. V.Gagneur, Letter to Cabinet Ciolos, subject: EFFAT-UNITAB-FETRATAB/ meeting on the post 2013 CAP reform, dated 12 September 2011
  17. Unitab, EFFAT, Fetratab, Letter to Mr. Jesus Zorrilla Torras, Head of Unit Directorate C Wine Alcool sic Tobacco DG AGRI, dated 29 October 2013, accessed November 2014
  18. EU Transparency Register, European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions, Financial Year 01/2013-12/2013, last updated 18 August 2014, accessed November 2014
  19. Lobby Facts EU, European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT), undated, accessed July 2019
  20. EU Transparency Register, European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions, Financial Year 01/2013-12/2013, last updated 28 February 2019, accessed July 2019