Health Minister launches anti-tobacco plan

The Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block (Flemish liberal) has launched her anti-tobacco plan. Ms De Block hopes that the measures contained in her plan will help to bring the percentage of people living in Belgium that smoke under 17% by 2018. Currently 18.3% of those resident in Belgium are regular smokers.
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On the one hand excise duty on tobacco products is to be increased and branding on cigarette packets will be banned from 2019, while on the other hand the cost of treatment to help smokers give up will be refunded in full.

The Health Minister will also support a bill banning smoking in cars when minors are present. This is similar to legislation that already exists in Australia, most Anglophone provinces of Canada, England and Wales and on the island of Jersey.

The increase in excise duty on tobacco products is one of the measures the Federal Government hopes will help bring down the budget deficit. The increase in excise duty should make the Exchequer an extra 70 million euro over two years. However, Ms De Block is keen to stress the health aspect of the duty increase. She hopes that more expensive cigarettes, cigars and rolling and pipe tobacco will encourage more of us to quit. She hopes that by 2018 just 17% of people in Belgium will smoke. Currently this is 18.3%. In 1997 25.5% of people in Belgium still smoked.

In addition to higher duty levels, the Health Minister also intends to tighten the rules governing the sale of tobacco products. There will be a maximum tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide content and the sale of menthol cigarettes will be banned. The Health Minister hopes fora n evolution towards “neutral cigarette packaging” by 2019