Budget check – De Block launches an anti-smoking plan that aims to reduce the number of smokers to below 17%
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    Budget check – De Block launches an anti-smoking plan that aims to reduce the number of smokers to below 17%

    The Social Affairs and Health Minister Maggie De Block presented an anti-smoking plan on Saturday, as part of the Budget check. This plan aims to reduce the number of smokers to below 17% of the population in 2018. This plan involves an increase in tax on tobacco, and measures including blank cigarette packets and a ban on smoking in cars with children.

    The ‘blank packet’ has proved itself in Australia, and will be introduced in Belgium, although not before 2019. The initiative has been put to the Chamber by the head of the Democratic Humanist group Catherine Fonck, and has been the subject of numerous discussions; in vain.

    The initiative to ban smoking in cars with children has been put before the Parliament, which is currently debating it. It is being backed by Minister De Block, who is keeping it in her plan, along with employing extra inspectors to fight passive smoking.

    The increase in tax should make the State around 70 million euros between 2016 and 2017.  

    The Minister will encourage stricter rules on tobacco products, to implement the latest European directive (ban on additives, maximum level for some emissions, ban on internet selling). Finally, there will be a bigger refund for stop smoking kits. This means that people who buy one will have to pay just 14.7 euros or 9.7 for those with extra reimbursement cover, instead of the current 49.9 euros.

    Maria Novak (Source: Belga)