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No smoke without fire: Negotiations with tobacco firms must be transparent

Despite the almost comical redacting of entire pages of material, the release of documents by the European Commission on the implementation of TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) sheds useful light on the Commission’s dealing with the big tobacco firms.

The suspicion is that these powerful multinationals are using their influence in a (literally) unhealthy manner, and attempting to make the European Union agree to provisions that would seriously harm efforts to cut back on tobacco smoking across Europe – a large and profitable market for the cigarette makers. While rates of smoking, among men at least, have been coming down across Western Europe since the cancer link was discovered more than half a century ago, Eastern Europe may hold greater opportunities for expansion for tobacco companies, as those economies grow in prosperity.

Despite the efforts of Corporate Europe Observatory to make a reality of freedom of information, Brussels still clearly has a good deal to learn about transparency. TTIP will have a dramatic effect on Europe’s peoples. There remain deep concerns that the benefits of trade liberalisation will be negated by a raft of concession to big business.

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