Despite alarmist stories in the Sunday Telegraph no EU institution has proposed to reinstate tobacco subsidies. EU law is proposed by the European Commission. It did NOT propose to reinstate subsidies in its proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy. Those proposals are decided upon and amended by elected MEPs(72 from UK) in the European Parliament plenary – who have yet to vote – and by 27 national Ministers in the EU Council, whose votes are weighted according to population size, in other words the UK has a lot more votes than Bulgaria. In order for an amendment to pass it needs a simple majority in the Parliament plenary and a qualified (i.e in practice very large) majority of Ministers. There no indication at the moment of such a majority in favour of tobacco subsidies.
EU subsidies for tobacco growing were phased-out at the end of 2010 and farmers now receive payments independent of what they produce. In 2003 a fund was created to financially support those affected by the changes to help growers to diversify production or restructure. Consequently, the area of land under tobacco cultivation has dropped by a third, and EU tobacco production has dropped accordingly.
The European Commission has no plans to support, encourage or facilitate the growth of tobacco production within the European Union and remains committed to raising public awareness of the dangers linked tobacco consumption.
For instance, the EU-wide “Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable” campaign is helping 300,000 smokers to quit: nearly half describe themselves as ex-smokers within three months. Also, through the Quit Smoking with Barca campaign, the EU is working across borders with an iconic global sporting brand to save thousands of lives and a great deal of taxpayers money. FC Barcelona is also bringing its own budget to bear at no cost to the taxpayer.
The overall cost of the anti-smoking initiatives is currently working out at about £30 per participant – vastly cheaper than even the usual cost of medical help to give up smoking, let alone the nearly £14billion annually that smoking was estimated in 2010 to cost the UK in health and other costs.