The Spanish Government Must Protect Health Over the Tobacco Industry
127 Health and Civil Rights Associations Demand that No New Tobacconist Licenses be Granted nor Renewed
MADRID, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 7, 2022 – Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) joins the 127 health, civil rights and consumer associations, from 43 countries, in denouncing the recent announcement from the Spanish Ministry of Finance which plans to grant more than 200 new tobacco retail licenses in Spain. The aligned organizations sent a letter to President Pedro Sánchez outlining several crucial actions that are necessary to reverse this plan and instead protect the health of all Spaniards.
The joint letter criticizes the proposed extreme concentration of tobacco outlets on the border with France, creating a ratio of 50 tobacconists per 10,000 inhabitants (in contrast to the national average of 4 tobacconists per 10,000 inhabitants). Spain is planning to flood France with cheap tobacco products and will potentially spark an illegal underground economy of people crossing the border to resell cheap Spanish products in France – this would turn Spain into a “tobacco dealer state.”
The key elements of the joint letter, led by Nofumadores.org, the National Committees for the Prevention of Smoking in both Spain (CNPT) and France (CNCT), the WHO Collaborating Center for Tobacco Control / Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), the European Network for Smoking Prevention (ENSP) and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), ask President Sánchez to:
1.) Cancel the public auction of new tobacco retail licenses and, instead, align Spanish policy with the recommendations from the public health sector – a gradual reduction in tobacco retail density. One way to implement this is by not renewing current tobacconists’ licenses, which expire in 25 years, particularly for any tobacconists that are near a school or playground.
2.) Increase taxes on all tobacco and nicotine products, harmonizing prices with France. This is a globally recognized best practice which will lower tobacco use prevalence, while providing additional income to the state (without needing to increase the number of tobacco outlets in Spain).
3.) Implement the Comprehensive Smoking Plan 2021-2025 and implement the legislative modification of Law 28/2005 on the Prevention of Smoking. Any delay in their implementation benefits the tobacco industry at the expense of the health of Spanish and European citizens.
These three action items are aligned with those already published by several Spanish health organizations in the Spanish Tobacco ENDGAME Declaration 2030.
If the Spanish Government continues to open new tobacconists, Spain will be unable to meet the reduction in cancer incidence by 2030, which is an objective agreed to by the European Union and in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Opening 200 new tobacconists, with a concentration along the border with France, would harm not only Spanish citizens’ health but also France’s health policy, its tax revenues, and its citizens, while making Spain the tobacconist – who profits off addiction, disease, and death – of Europe.
ACTION ON SMOKING AND HEALTH
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. https://ash.org