H/T Reinhold. Unreported in the European media, on 23 January more than 3,500 tobacco retailers and tobacco smokers from all over Europe protested in Brussels against the destruction of their tobacco culture.
With whistles, horns, rattles, firecrackers, posters and banners the protesters gathered at Square Frère Orban (at the seat of the CEDT).
After a long wait, the rally finally moved through the EU Parliament quarters towards Rond point Schuman. At the base of the European Commission’s building all the participants gathered to take part in the rallies and the conversation exchange. French, Italians, Spaniards, Poles, Portuguese, Germans and Luxembourg – only to name a few – stood together in this protest.
They were protesting against proposed revisions to the Tobacco Products Directive, which deal with: Regulation of products like electronic-and herbal cigarettes. Labelling and packaging of tobacco products. Additives, such as flavourings, used in tobacco products. Internet sales of tobacco products and tracking and tracing of these products.
A statement was read out (in German):
With this Tobacco-Product Directive, the Brussels eurocrats have pushed open a door to an unprecedented health dictatorship – [under the unsympathetic Maltese influence of people like Dalli and Borg] the Commission is turning all of Europe into a huge paternalistic state.
We state what is obvious to anyone in his right mind: Even if one assumes the measures for discrimination against, and systematic exclusion of, a third of the population was actually due to concerns about health – the health of adult, responsible citizens, mind you –, the effect will be by no means the allegedly desired improvement of that health, but social division, systemic violence, poverty, disease, and death – in fact of smokers as well as of non-smokers.
Those who wilfully deface and uglify the world with nauseating pictures, those who importune even bystanders with the sight of images which wouldn’t be shown in a film released to youth under 18, those are not in the slightest bit interested in the citizens’ well-being
Those who try to cause diseases that you would not wish on your worst enemy using shocking images, while pretending to want to prevent exactly that, those are acting criminally – you can not call it anything else.
Those who criminalize a centuries-old cultural product that a third of the Europeans wish to consume are certainly not acting on their behalf. A democratically illegitimate clique is doing this, uncontrolled by the people and impossible for them to vote out, and following their own obscure interests and from a viewpoint accountable to nobody, least of all to those directly affected.
Those who carry the image of the free market like a monstrance in front of them, while simultaneously dispossessing an entire industry, those really are not in the least bit interested in free trade.
Those who dish out tax money for job creation schemes and simultaneously and knowingly destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs, those act in a deeply antisocial manner.
We urge the Commission to prevent any regulation of the legal product of tobacco.
Leave the decision to adult, responsible consumers and citizens. They know much better what they want and what they do not want than a little group of overpaid and unnecessary bureaucrats whose opinion we don’t want to know.
Leave us alone and go and regulate the traffic on the next junction instead, if you can’t steer clear of regulating people!
Meanwhile in Bulgaria on 1 February smokers were also protesting:
Sofia. A protest against the full smoking ban in public places in Bulgaria has taken place outside the parliament in Sofia, FOCUS News Agency reported.
About 300 [more like 2000 according to Desislava Petrova in the comments] people in total gathered at the protest. They were blowing whistles and smoking. People from the southern cities of Haskovo and Plovdiv joined the protest, too.
40% of Bulgarians are smokers, and there have been several protests:
The protest was organised by Andrei Slabakov, who has made overturning the smoking ban the signature issue of his political party, Free Choice. Slabakov has been photographed in public wearing a yellow Star of David, in the style of the Nazi era, but with the word “smoker” imposed on it.
In the first few months of the ban, opposition to the ban was led by Bulgaria’s hotel and restaurant industry, which protested against huge losses of revenue as smokers stayed away. The February 1 protest was organised by Slabakov, apparently in the hope that a cross-party consensus among Bulgaria’s high percentage of smokers would propel him and his newly-formed party into Parliament.
Bulgaria’s full ban on smoking in public places came into effect in June 2012, outlawing smoking in restaurants, bars and other enclosed public places. Attempts towards the end of the year to amend the law to revert to the previous version, which allowed separate smoking areas in bars and restaurants, came to nothing.