European Cigar Manufacturers Association

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The European Cigar Manufacturers Association (ECMA) was founded in the early 1990s and represents cigar manufacturers and national cigar associations in Europe. As of 2021, it has 16 full members from across the EU.1. It previously listed Imperial Tobacco, British American Tobacco (BAT), and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) as members (Image 1)2

Image 1. ECMA membership in June 2015.2

ECMA has been an active interest group in many tobacco-specific policy debates, arguing that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to tobacco regulation is inappropriate, and that cigars should be exempt from many tobacco regulations due to the small size of the cigar market.

Note: The European Cigar Manufacturers Association should not be confused with the European Carton Makers Association, which goes by the same acronym.

Board Members and Staff

In April 2021, the ECMA board members consisted of:1

  • Beat Burger (Burger Söhne and Dannemann)- President
  • Fernando Dominguez (Tabacalera S.L.U, previously Imperial Tobacco)- Board member
  • Beat Hauenstein (Oettinger Davidoff AG)- Board member
  • Niels Frederiksen (Scandinavian Tobacco Group)- Board member
  • Stefano Mariotti (Manifatture Sigaro Toscano, previously British American Tobacco)- Board member
  • Frederick Vandermarliere (J. Cortès Cigars)- Treasurer
  • Paul Varakas (Vice President of the Society of European Affairs Professionals)- Director General

Previous board members include: Ad Wintermans (Royal Agio Cigars), Roland Wuttke (Japan Tobacco International), Marcel Crijnen (Dutch Cigar Manufacturers Association) and Maria Angeles Martinez-Pastor.

Lobbying on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products Not Needed for Cigars

In 2009, ECMA responded to the negotiations on the Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, arguing that there is “no illicit trade in cigars….both at the level of the European Union as well as at international level” and therefore no need for the Protocol to encompass cigars.3 ECMA furthermore claimed that the proposed ‘track and trace’ provisions were inappropriate for cigars due to the cigar’s fragmented production process.

Concept of ‘Attractiveness’ in Articles 9 & 10 in Conflict with Better Regulation Principles

In June 2010, ECMA circulated a position statement in response to the development of partial guidelines for implementation of Articles 9 and 10 (Regulation of the contents of tobacco products and Regulation of tobacco product disclosures) of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).4 In addition to calling for an exemption for the cigar industry, ECMA challenged the concept of ingredient ‘attractiveness’ citing EU Better Regulation principles. ECMA argued that “appropriate ingredients regulation should be based on sound science and meet internationally accepted principles of “Better Regulation”, claiming that the concept of attractiveness “is lacking in any evidential foundation and is inherently uncertain and arbitrary”.

  • To view ECMA’s position statement on FCTC Articles 9 & 10, click here.  

ECMA’s use of Better Regulation to challenge public health measures is in line with evidence that British American Tobacco (BAT), and other corporations that manufacture products harmful to health, were instrumental in promoting Better Regulation in the EU, anticipating that it would favour corporate interests and could be used to weaken tobacco control efforts.5

  • To read more about how the tobacco industry has used Better Regulation against tobacco control, see EU Better Regulation.

Attempting to Water Down Provisions in the Tobacco Products Directive

From 2009 to 2014 the EU revised the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), a piece of legislation that regulates the manufacture, sale, presentation of tobacco products in Europe. A 2015 study, led by the University of Bath, examined tobacco industry efforts to influence the TPD revision and identified 137 third party associations that actively opposed the TPD, including ECMA.6

ECMA has been registered on the EU lobbying register since 9 February 2009. In 2014 it declared that it had spent between €100,000 and €199,999 on EU lobbying activities that year.7

Its lobbying efforts have focused on trying to block an increase in the size of health warnings, undermining the validity of the concept of ‘attractiveness’ in ingredients regulation, and refuting the legal basis for a point of sales display ban.8. ECMA’s position statement on the TPD can be viewed here.

Being Actively Involved in Formal Stakeholder Consultation Processes

To try and influence the TPD, ECMA used the formal stakeholder processes which started in autumn 2009 and were led by the European Commission’s DG SANCO, the department responsible for tobacco control, and by ENVI, the European Parliament’s Committee of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.

ECMA was a participant in at least 4 formal, and minuted, stakeholder meetings:

  • 20 October 2010 – DG SANCO meeting with tobacco industry stakeholders to discuss the RAND interim report.9
  • 19 December 2011 – Meeting between DG SANCO and ESTOC, ESTA, Swedish Match and ECMA.10
  • 7 March 2012- Meeting between Health Commissioner John Dalli, DG SANCO and the tobacco industry.11
  • 19 March 2013 – ENVI meeting with the tobacco products supply chain.12 ECMA was also a stakeholder in discussions about the RAND Impact Assessment study, commissioned by the European Commission in 2009 to examine the impact of revising the TPD. In a letter to DG SANCO dated 18 January 2010, ECMA criticised RAND’s interim report for not complying with the Commission’s impact assessment guidelines” and not considering the specific structure of the cigar industry.13

To view ECMA’s position statement on the RAND interim report, click here.

ECMA also submitted a response to DG SANCO’s public consultation on the TPD revision, which ran from September to December 2010.14 ECMA’s submission challenged the proposed policy options of enlarged health warnings, an ingredients ban, and a Point of Sale Display Ban. In addition, the submission also rejected the option of plain packaging, which it claimed was “a disproportionate measure, claiming it would 1) facilitate the trade in counterfeit and contraband tobacco products, 2) result in consumer confusion and 3) negatively impact on the competitive operation of the market for tobacco products”. No evidence was provided to support these claims.

Non-health lobbying targets: Secretariat General, DG ENTR, DG AGRI, DG EMPL

ECMA also lobbied non-health elements in the Commission. On several occasions in 2011, ECMA contacted DG ENTR, the department responsible for Enterprise and Industry, warning that the proposed measures in the TPD would lead to a “disproportionate burden for the (mainly small to medium sized) cigar sector”.15161718 No evidence was provided to support this claim.

  • To view the strongly redacted correspondence between DG ENTR and ECMA, released by the European Commission under freedom of information legislation, click  here and here.

Freedom of information documents also reveal that DG ENTR met ECMA twice, in September 2011 and in May 2012 (which also included CECCM (now Tobacco Europe) and Imperial Tobacco).19 Although notes were taken during the meetings, they were not made publicly available, in contravention of FCTC Article 5.3.

DG AGRI, the department responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development, was another lobby target. In May 2011, ECMA wrote a letter to DG AGRI introducing ECMA’s new President and requesting a meeting to discuss how the TPD would “disproportionately disadvantage the –mainly small to medium sizes- manufacturers of cigars”. An almost identical email was sent to the Director-General of DG EMPL, the department responsible for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion. 20

  • To view the email correspondence between ECMA and DG EMPL, click here.

In addition to these non-health portfolios, ECMA lobbied the highest echelons of the Commission, the Secretariat-General (responsible for Better Regulation) and the Cabinet of the Commission’s President, José Manuel Barroso. In November 2011, the German Cigar Association (BdZ) sent an email to Henning Klaus, the member of the Barroso Cabinet responsible for Better Regulation, trying to arrange a meeting between BdZ, ECMA, and Klaus.21 It is unclear if a meeting took place, but on 20 December 2011, on the request of Barroso’s Cabinet, ECMA met with a member of staff from the Secretariat-General, the department responsible for Better Regulation.22 None of these meetings were minuted and published.

On Friendly Terms with the Dutch Department of Health

Internal tobacco industry documents reveal that ECMA, through its Secretary General Marcel Crijnen, maintained regular contact in 2009 and 2010 with senior staff of the Dutch Department of Health, including the then Director-General for Public Health, Paul Huijts.23242526 The documents show that ECMA regularly shared its views on tobacco control policy issues with the department, although it is unknown if this helped shaped the Dutch government’s position on these issues.

In 2011, ECMA became concerned about the transition period needed to switch to new text health warnings on tobacco products, including cigars.27 The European Commission had set the transition period to four years, giving Member States the option to shorten this period. In correspondence with the Dutch Department for Health, ECMA was quickly reassured by the Dutch Department for Health that the Dutch Government would most definitely apply the full four years implementations period, so not to cause the tobacco industry any issues.28

TobaccoTactics Resources

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  1. abECMA website, ECMA members, 2021, accessed April 2021
  2. abECMA website, ECMA Members, 2015, archived February 2015
  3. European Cigar Manufacturers Association, ECMA position on the FCTC protocol on illicit trade in tobacco products, 2009, accessed June 2015
  4. Nederlandse Vereniging voor de Sigarenindustrie, Gesprek tabaksindustrie met DG VWS, accessed June 2015
  5. K Smith, G Fooks, J Collin, et al. “Working the System”—British American Tobacco’s influence on the European Union Treaty and its implications for policy: an analysis of internal tobacco industry documents. PLoS Med 2010;7: e1000202, accessed June 2015
  6. S. Peeters, H. Costa, D. Stuckler, M. McKee, A.B. Gilmore, 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, accessed June 2015
  7. EU Transparency Register, European Cigar Manufacturers Association, last updated 11 February 2015, accessed June 2015
  8. ECMA, ECMA views on the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive
  9. European Commission Health and Consumers Directorate General, meeting with stakeholders assessing Tobacco Products Directive prepared by RAND Europe, Meeting date: 20 October 2010, accessed April 2021
  10. European Commission Health and Consumers Directorate General, Tobacco Control, published 6 January 2012, accessed April 2021
  11. European Commission, Minutes of meeting between TI and Dalli, published 8 March 2012, accessed April 2021
  12. European Parliament, Meeting with Representatives of Stakeholders in the Tobbaco supply chain- participants list, published 19 March 2013
  13. ECMA, RE: Interim report assessing the impacts of revising the tobacco products directive, 18 January 2010, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number JB0523
  14. European Cigar Manufacturers Association, RE: ECMA response to the Public consultation on the possible revision of the Tobacco Products Directive, 14 December 2010, accessed June 2015
  15. ECMA, Email to DG ENTR dated 27 April 2011 11.35AM, Subject: Revision of the tobacco products directive-ECMA. Tilburg
  16. ECMA, Email to DG ENTR dated 28 April 2011 2.06PM, Subject: RE: Revision of the tobacco products directive-ECMA. Tilburg
  17. ECMA, Email to DG ENTR dated 2 May 2011 9:09AM, Subject: Revision of the tobacco products directive-ECMA response to public consultation: deleted as a privacy information, Tilburg
  18. ECMA, Email to European Commission dated 5 December 2012 10:46AM, Subject: ECMA views on the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD)
  19. DG ENTR, Internal email dated 20 May 2012 10:19AM, Subject: Report of different chat with CECCM, Imperial and ECMA on the review of the Tobacco directive.
  20. M. Crijnen, Email to Koos Richelle, DG EMPL, dated 9 May 2011 2:02 PM, Subject: European Cigar Manufacturers Association, Tilburg
  21. G. Morel, Email to BdZ dated 17 November 2011 17:33, subject: RE:Terminanfrage. Brussels
  22. European Commission and OLAF, Replies to the Questionnaire on resignation of Dalli, published 30 November 2012, accessed 21 April 2021
  23. Nederlandse Vereniging van de Sigarenindustrie, Subject: FCTC protocol on illicit trade in tobacco products, 12 May 2009 15:51, accessed June 2015
  24. Nederlandse Vereniging voor de Sigarenindustrie, WHO FCTC CoP 4- NVS positive betreffende de “Draft guidelines for the implementation of Article 9 and 10”, 28 September 2010 10:58, accessed June 2015
  25. European Cigar Manufacturers Association, Subject: Reactie NL sigarenindustrie op TPD consultative en RAND rapport, 17 December 2010 10:57, available from:, accessed June 2015
  26. M. Crijnen, Onderwerp: ECMA views on the interim report assessing the impacts of revising the tobacco products directive, 19 January 2010 10:28, accessed June 2015
  27. Nederlandse Vereniging voor de Sigarenindustrie, Subject: FW: New text warnings for tobacco products – implementation period for cigars, 23 februari 2011 10:46, accessed June 2015
  28. Ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn and Sport, RE: New text warnings for tobacco products –implementation period for cigars, 26 April 2011 16:56, accessed June 2015