The Netherlands speeds up legislation. Last October, secretary of state Paul Blokhuis, of the conservative Christen Unie, released the ‘prevention agreement’. In this, one-sided, agreement the government and anti-smoke groups announced legislation against smoking.
But now, the plans have been tightened. And will be in effect earlier than agreed upon. From early 2020, plain packaging will be implemented for cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco. From 2022, plain packaging goes in effect for cigars, pipe tobacco and vape.
No cigar exemption
The European Union left room for an exemption for premium cigars. All EU members, except for The Netherlands, took the opportunity to except premium cigars. The Netherlands did not, hurting the Dutch cigar distributors hard. Cubacigar Benelux, the distributor of premium Cuban cigars, filed a lawsuit against the Dutch government. Ministry of Cigars interviewed Tony Hoevenaars, CEO of Cubacigar Benelux, the interview will be published tomorrow.
Other European countries that have implemented plain packaging are the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, and Hungary. Belgium, Luxembourg and other E.U. members will follow soon, yet none of this affects the premium cigar distributors as they are exempt.
Price and visibility as a weapon
The price of a pack of cigarettes will be increased with a euro per pack of twenty cigarettes. And the plan is to increase the price of a pack of cigarettes to ten euro in 2023. Other tobacco products will see the same tax increase.
All shops will have to hide their tobacco. It can’t be displayed anymore from 2020. Gas stations will have to hide the tobacco from 2021. Only tobacconists who get more than 75% of their turnover from tobacco products are allowed to display their merchandise.
Smoke lounges in bars, restaurants, hotels, and businesses will be prohibited. Smoking at schoolyards, petting zoos, daycare centers, and 2500 sports clubs will be illegal too. And in 2025, smoking will be prohibited at any sports club or sports event. The Netherlands has universal health care. From January 1st, that insurance covers medical help to quit smoking.
All in all, The Netherlands will be the most strict European country when it comes to tobacco. Even though the country has a huge tobacco history. There are still cigars being produced in The Netherlands by companies as Olifant en Van der Donk. Royal Agio is another huge Dutch tobacco company. And Scandinavian Tobacco Group has their European warehouse in the southern part of the country.