Hodjanernes Blog

21 juni 2013

EU Bureaukratiet fejrer nye triumfer

Bent cucumbers, olive oil and the exact diameter of cigarettes

Today (19. juni)  sees the 25th anniversary of EEC Regulation No 1677/88, a piece of European legislation that has gone down in infamy for banning bent cucumbers and which was the precursor to the equally infamous ban on bent bananas. Such regulations have been used as a stick with which to beat Eurocrats ever since.

Much of the discussion about the forthcoming Tobacco Products Directive has focused on the EU’s intention to kill off the emerging e-cigarette industry, as well as its failure to re-legalise snus. These failings are so glaring that the petty rule-making that dominates its text has been overlooked, but they are worth mentioning.

For example, the Commission wants to ban cigarette packs which are 54 mm wide, but will allow packs that are 55 mm wide (and only 55 mm wide). It will allow cigarettes to be sold if they have a diameter of 7.5 mm, but no more and no less than 7.5 mm. Only cigarettes which have a flip top lid will be allowed. Menthol cigarettes will be arbitrarily banned. Cylindrical rolling tobacco tins will be banned, but rectangular pouches will be tolerated. Packs of 20 will be OK, but packs of 19 will be illegal.

Much of this is relatively trivial—laughable, even—but some of it will have a negative impact on consumer choice. The bans on menthol and slims, in particular, will likely create a black market in those products (even Guardian writers have found a ban they don’t like in the menthol proposal). But it is the very triviality of the proposals that is the issue. This directive will take several years, countless meetings and huge sums of money to put into place, and for what? Does anyone seriously think that nonsmokers are drawn to cigarettes that have a 7.3 mm diameter? Does even the most deluded anti-smoking crank believe that nonsmokers are strangely repelled by flip-top boxes?

Følg med i alle forbuddene på Velvet Glove Iron Fist, forfatteren Christopher Snowdon har skret nogle meget anbefalelsesværdige bøger, og hvis du er interesseret, har han også meninger om mantraet “Ulighed i sundhed“.