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Created in 1994, Fetratab (Fédération Européenne des Transformeurs de Tabac) is the European association of tobacco processors.1 Fetratab has been listed on the EU Transparency Register since December 2014, and has indicted the following national tobacco growers associations as members:2

  • France: LTR Industries S.A.S
  • Greece: HATPI – Hellenic Association of Tobacco Processing Industries and Tobacco Dealers
  • Italy: Associazione Professionale di Trasformatori di Tabacchi Italiani (A.P.T.I.)
  • Spain: Associacion Nacional Española de Empresas de Transformacion de Tabaco
  • Poland: Universal Leaf Tobacco Poland and Lukowa Tobacco
  • Hungary: Universal Leaf Tobacco Hungary Pte.
  • Bulgaria: Socotab Bulgaria EOOD and Alliance One Tobacco EOOD
  • Germany: Alliance One Rotag AG

Carlo Sacchetto has been Fetratab’s Secretary General since 2006. He was part of the Italian delegation at the Sixth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Moscow.3 Domenico Cardinali is FETRATAB president.2

Links to the Tobacco Industry

Co-Founder of Tobacco House

Fetratab was one of the co-founders of Tobacco House,45 a pan-European lobbying collaboration set up in 1999 by actors across the entire tobacco supply chain, including tobacco manufacturers (notably  Philip Morris International), whose objective it was “To restore the legitimacy and credibility of the entire tobacco sector and become a reasonable and constructive partner of the European Institutions…”6

Tobacco House was involved in lobbying against the original 2001 Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).7

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

Leaked internal documents from Philip Morris International (PMI) have revealed that Fetratab’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.8 As part of its campaign, PMI mobilised what it referred to as a “3rd party coalition9of 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.10

Fetratab, together with UNITAB and EFFAT, were earmarked by PMI to garner political support for pro-tobacco views from non-health Commissioners and Commission departments.11 Image 1 shows a slide from a leaked PMI presentation outlining the involvement of this three-party coalition as part of the company’s strategy to oppose the TPD. It was intended that the collation 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). 11

Image 1. Fetratab’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

Lobbying against the EU Tobacco Products Directive

Fetratab lobbied against the EU Tobacco Products Directive Revision (TPD), a piece of legislation that 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.8

Of the various tobacco control measures proposed in the TPD, Fetratab appears to have most strongly objected to the ingredients ban and plain packaging (which was later omitted from the TPD proposal8), and to a lesser degree the EU snus sales ban.

Arguments against the TPD Echo Industry Arguments

The main arguments Fetratab used to oppose the TPD and the introduction of Plain Packaging mirrored classic arguments Transnational Tobacco Companies (TTCs) have used to oppose unwanted regulation for decades. These included:

  • Plain packaging will increase illicit tobacco trade;1213
  • Plain packaging will result in lower EU prices for leaf tobacco, leading to significant job losses;1213
  • Packaging simplification will result in automatisation of the processing industry, leading to further job losses;13
  • Plain packaging will result in competition no longer being on the level of brands (i.e. the tobacco manufacturers), but shift to the tobacco processing industry;14
  • There is a need to add sugar without losing the flavour of European tobacco. An ingredients’ ban would result in the end of European tobacco and an increase in imported tobacco;1214
  • Lifting the ban of snus will provide an additional outlet for European tobacco.12

Lobbying Non-Health Elements of the Commission: Agriculture and Trade

Documents released under freedom of information (FOI) legislation confirm that Fetratab, in collaboration with Unitab and EFFAT, 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.15 A meeting with the Commissioner’s Cabinet was arranged for 27 April 2010, although no minutes have been released.16
  • Consistent with PMI’s strategy (Image 1), Fetratab, EFFAT and Unitab 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.14 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 Fetratab and its partners with the Cabinet of the Agriculture Commissioner 17 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.12
  • 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”,13 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, Fetratab, Unitab and EFFAT 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.18

TobaccoTactics Resources

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  1. Fetratab, Submission of FETRATAB to the WHO on a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, 30 August 2000, accessed November 2014
  2. abEU Transparency Register, FETRATAB members, updated December 2020, accessed May 2021
  3. World Health Organization,  Delegation List, Sixth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control 13-18 October 2014, accessed November 2014
  4. La Maison de Metiers du Tabac, (AISBL) The Tobacco House. Creation of the Tobacco House in Brussels Press Kit, 21 October 1990, accessed November 2014
  5. CECCM, Proposal for the Public Announcement of the Creation of the Tobacco House, 22 September 1999, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 321532326-321532329
  6. Philip Morris, Tobacco House, accessed November 2014
  7. S. Mandal et al, Block, amend, delay: tobacco industry efforts to influence the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive (2201/37/EC), The Smoke Free Partnership June 2009, accessed November 2014
  8. abcS. 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
  9. Philip Morris International, EU Tobacco Products Directive Review 17 August 2012. Presentation slides leaked in 2013
  10. Philip Morris International, Stats File. Predicted committee voting outcomes and committee coverage information. Leaked in 2013
  11. abPhilip Morris International, PMI TPD Core Team Meeting, 14 September 2011. Presentation slides leaked in 2013
  12. abcdeEuropean 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
  13. abcdH. Wiedenhofer, 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
  14. abcEuropean Commission DG Trade, Meeting with tobacco processing industry 8 Sept 2011. Meeting notes released under freedom of information, accessed October 2014
  15. F. Vedel, C. Sachetto, P. Pellegrini, Letter from Unitab, Fetratab and EFFAT to Commissioner Dacian Ciolos dated 4 March 2010, accessed October 2014
  16. A. Catalao, Email from Cabinet Ciolos to Unitab dated 18 March 2010, accessed November 2014
  17. V.Gagneur, Letter to Cabinet Ciolos, subject: EFFAT-UNITAB-FETRATAB/ meeting on the post 2013 CAP reform, dated 12 September 2011
  18. 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