Statement from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
Dutch Parliament Moves to Drastically Reduce Tobacco Sales

Contact: Megan Arendt
(202) 659-4310

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS – MARCH 3, 2020 – Earlier today, the Dutch House of Representatives passed a bill designed to significantly reduce the number of retail outlets for tobacco products, aiming to restrict sales to tobacco-only, adult-only specialty stores. If passed, the law would give other retailers until the end of 2022 to eliminate tobacco sales voluntarily, after which it will become mandatory. Studies have shown that reducing access to tobacco products is a key factor in keeping kids from starting use and inspiring adults to quit.

The move comes a year after a criminal case for manslaughter, among other charges, against the tobacco industry and its individual executives failed to win the approval of the Dutch courts. The appellate judge in the case did not go so far as to say that tobacco industry behavior is not criminal, but that since the product has been sold for so long it is rightfully within the competency of Parliament to make changes.

Historically, the Netherlands has been a fairly strong defender of the interests of the tobacco industry, but that is changing. A campaign surrounding the criminal case garnered signatures from tens of thousands Dutch citizens eager to bring down the industry.

The Netherlands is a party to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the global treaty whose objective is to protect the world from the harm caused by tobacco. For the first time, this November the Dutch government will host the biannual FCTC Conference of the Parties, where delegates will meet to negotiate and discuss new initiatives and best practices. The negotiations rotate geographically, and often the impending host country passes strong legislation in advance to emphasize their commitment to ending the tobacco epidemic.

If the bill becomes law, the Netherlands will have among the strongest tobacco retail laws in the world, and certainly the strongest in a high-income country. To date, only Bhutan has banned tobacco sales altogether. Worldwide, there is a growing interest in attacking the supply side of the tobacco epidemic. Two cities in California – Beverly Hills and Manhattan Beach – have passed laws phasing out commercial tobacco sales by January 1, 2021, and others seem determined to join them in order to protect the health of their citizens.


Founded in 1967, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is America’s oldest anti-tobacco organization, dedicated to a world with ZERO tobacco deaths. Because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH supports bold solutions proportionate to the magnitude of the problem.