The finance ministry is breaking a World Health Organisation treaty on the discouragement of smoking, weekly magazine Vrij Nederland reports.
The treaty states that governments drawing up new laws to discourage smoking must have no contact with companies with a commercial interest in tobacco.
According to documents obtained by Vrij Nederland under freedom of information laws, the finance ministry is prepared to alter legal text at the behest of the tobacco industry.
In a statement, the ministry told news agency ANP it ‘keeps to the treaty’ and does not discuss new laws on health policy with tobacco firms. Where discussions do take place, these are about how to levy taxes and not about how high the tax should be.
‘The amount of tax on tobacco in the Netherlands, one of the highest in Europe, shows the industry has no say in the matter,’ a spokesman told the magazine.
Vrij Nederland also reports that employers’ organisation VNO-NCW lobbies at the highest government levels in The Hague and in Brussels to soften the anti-smoking policy. VNO-NCW director Niek van Kesteren told the magazine the Netherlands government needs tobacco taxes to balance its budget.
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