The tobacco industry is launching a lobbying campaign against Social Affairs and Health Minister Maggie De Block, according to information obtained by Het Nieuwsblad daily. The Flemish liberal minister wants cigarettes sold only in plain packaging from 2020, which the tobacco sector wishes to avoid at all cost.
De Block’s decision, of which the manufacturers have already been informed, is to be formalised at an upcoming meeting of the Council of Ministers.
The tobacco sector has decided to approach parliamentarians and the country’s deputy prime ministers to persuade them to block the obligation to use plain packets. Specialists of the fight against cancer fear that such a campaign will delay the measure’s entry into force.
A representative of the cigarette producers’ federation, Cimabel, has denied that a vast lobbying campaign is being organized, saying that all economic sectors do lobbying by contacting key political officials. “We’re going to mobilise our contacts and lay out our complaints to them,” said Filip Buntinx.