03 Mar 2010

John Mason, SNP MP for Glasgow East, has tabled an early day motion in the House of Commons calling on the EU to stub out its tobacco subsidy.

The continuing subsidy by the European Union of tobacco cultivation is costing taxpayers £260 million a year. Consequentially, the SNP Euro-MP Alyn Smith has written to the EU Commissioner-Designate for Health, John Dalli, and EU Commissioner-Designate for Budget and Financial Programming, Janusz Lewandowski, calling for their support to end the payments, and has also launched a petition on his website (www.alynsmith.eu) which calls for an end to the subsidy.

John Mason’s motion has garnered support from all of the main political parties, as well as from independent MPs.

John Mason says:

“Europe is in the middle of a serious economic downturn, arguably the most severe to hit the continent since World War II. Spending over a quarter of a billion pounds on subsidising tobacco production would be hard to justify at the best of times, but in the midst of a recession it is utter madness.

“There are 1001 better ways in which these massive sums could be spent. In fact, diverting even a small proportion of the overall subsidy to economic developments projects in the East End would make all the difference to communities in my constituency.”

Alyn Smith MEP added:

“Subsidising tobacco equates to subsiding the cause of cancer it’s as straightforward as that and it has to stop. I’m not against agricultural subsidy, but it should go to crops with a nutritional or environmental benefit, not tobacco.”

The text of John’s motion is as follows:

That this House expresses disappointment at the continuing subsidy by the European Union of tobacco cultivation to the tune of some £260 million each year despite the many more millions paid by the EU in anti-tobacco public information campaigns and billions of pounds worth of damage done to the EU’s economy by the public health impact of smoking as well as the real damage on the health of individuals; believes that tobacco subsidy should end immediately and if need be subsidies to cultivation of alternative crops be explored; wholly supports the campaign and petition by Alyn Smith MEP to achieve this aim; and welcomes the backing of the News of the World newspaper for the campaign.