Czech Republic - President Klaus claims methods EU proposing to reduce smoking are ludicrous..

President's flag..
October 1, 2010 - On September 24, 2010 the European Commission launched a public consultation on the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive (2001/37/EC). (European Commission launches public consultation on revision of the tobacco products Directive..)

Czech President Vaclav Klaus, a nonsmoker and active athlete who is particularly fond of hiking, took part in the celebratory opening Wednesday, September 29th of an expanded Philip Morris tobacco and cigarette production plant in the medieval Czech city Kutna Hora.

Before cutting the ribbon to open the new plant, which now can produce 40 million cigarettes annually compared with 30 million previously, Mr. Klaus, 69, said the methods the EU is proposing to reduce smoking are ludicrous, adding that more bureaucracy can stifle or even kill business.

The European Commission last week launched a public consultation period ahead of the revision of the bloc’s Tobacco Products Directive, a set of guidelines for the tobacco industry. Measures being floated for the updated directive include more restrictive rules on tobacco sales, double-sided pictorial warnings on cigarette packages illustrating the dangers of smoking, as well as a proposal that, if approved, would require all brands of cigarettes to be sold in “plain” [read: generic] packaging. The EU aims to adopt the updated rules in 2012. Similar proposals in the U.K. were floated earlier this year.

Mr. Klaus: “Prohibitions can never solve anything,” adding that he came to the factory reopening to support a going concern that is actually investing and increasing the size of its operations. Without a doubt, corporate investment rather than cash-hording is crucial if Europe wants to keep its recovery on track. And so long as tobacco is still legal in Europe, Mr. Klaus has a valid argument that companies involved in the industry should be allowed to compete.

He added that he was not “celebrating cigarettes” but reiterated that he was bringing attention to sought after investment.

Sometimes Klaus’s contrarian (person with a preference for taking a position opposed to that of the majority view prevalent in the group of which they are a part) views may look tainted, for example having international translations and publishing of his anti-environmentalist book Blue Planet in Green Chains funded by various oil companies.

At one time - Czech President Klaus ready to debate Gore on climate chnage..

Reference: Nonsmoking Euroskeptic Klaus May Have a Point This Time by Sean Carney, Wall Street Journal Blogs, 9/30/2010.

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