EU - restrict imports of tobacco unless member has minimum tax..

May 6, 2009 - Finland and the other old member-states of the European Union (EU) want to restrict personal imports of tobacco products from members that refuse to raise the minimum tax on tobacco. In addition to Finland, the move is being supported by a number of other countries with high tobacco tax rates, such as Britain, Sweden, Austria, Germany and Ireland. Click - Old and New Members of the EU..

The move would lead to the imposition of new limits on passenger imports just as the old ones are expiring.

However, the proposal is problematic for many new EU members, which have only recently achieved or are getting close to the previous minimum duty level. For instance, Latvia’s tax level recently reached the minimum level, and that of Estonia is also close. The new member-states agreed to increasing the minimum duty rate only if they were given a long transitional period in implementing it.

The old member states see the hike in the minimum tax as important, because they fear that their citizens will be bringing in more tobacco products from the Baltic region and Eastern Europe. Finland is blocking growth in imports from Estonia by imposing a limit on passenger imports on tobacco products in packages which do not have warning labels in Finnish or Swedish. Slightly under one fifth of all cigarettes smoked in Finland are bought abroad. There is great variation in the price of cigarettes in the 27 EU countries. A package of brand-name cigarettes costs one euro in Romania. The price is six times as high in Britain.

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Reference: Finland wants to renew restrictions on passenger imports of tobacco from other EU countries Old and new member-states locked in dispute over minimum taxationHELSINGIN SANOMAT INTERNATIONAL EDITION - FOREIGN, 5/6/2009.