Monday 20 September 2021

Government may face court action over anti-smoking plan failings

Photo: DutchNews.nl

A foundation campaigning to stop youngsters from starting smoking is planning to take the government to court for being slow to act, the Volkskrant reported on Monday.

Stichting Rookpreventie Jeugd says the government needs to make more effort to meet its targets and that it wants certainty about plans to put up taxes on cigarettes and tobacco next year, after a number of MPs said they would oppose the increase.

The foundation is hoping to emulate the Urgenda campaign group, which took the government to court for failing to do enough to cut carbon emissions and won. ‘Whatever the government is doing, it is not making a difference,’ foundation chairwoman Wanda de Kanter said.

The price of a packet of cigarettes, currently around €8.20, is due to hit €10 by 2023, but the next increase has been called into question after public health industry RIVM said the impact of price rises is ‘less than expected’.

And the agreement reached between the government and industry on combating smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity is also ‘almost bankrupt’, De Kanter told the paper.

The Nationaal Preventieakkoord, a government prevention programme, aims to bring back the number of smokers and problem drinkers to 5% and the number of overweight people to 38% by 2040.

Deaths

Some 22% of the Dutch population still smoke and 35,000 people in the Netherlands a year die from the effects of smoking, being overweight or problem drinking.

In May, anti smoking lobby groups, supported by heart health charity Hartstichting, cancer charity KWF Kankerbestrijding and pharmaceuticals company Pfizer, called on the next government to do more to ban smoking and to bring in strict regulations for alternative products, such as electronic cigarettes.

DutchNews.nl has contacted the Stichting Rookpreventie Jeugd for comment.

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