According to the European Union, the increase of cigarette prices has to be the result of greater fiscal pressure; it must not be the result of the manufacturers’ decisions to hike prices to earn higher profits, because this is a swindle that damages the citizen.
But the Italian Tobacconists Federation—Federazione Italiana Tabaccai,—sponsored by Philip Morris, continues to repeat its blatant disinformation aimed at safeguarding the profits of the multinationals, totally without respect for its members. This pseudo-federation is trying to explain to tobacconists that it is good that the swindle continues and that cigarette prices continue to rise whenever Philip Morris decides it, and that it is not a good if the State earns the money by raising taxes.
The Regional Administrative Court – TAR of Lazio has just cancelled Italy’s “minimum tax,” because it circumvented the sentence of the European Court of Justice that had just abolished the “minimum price.” The minimum price was at the base of the cartel that had allowed Philip Morris to hike its profits on Marlboros up to 600%. This sentence will obligate the State to increase cigarette prices using taxation, as other countries do in the rest of Europe.
So, the FIT thought it would make its contribution as a third-class lobbyist publishing in its «La Voce del Tabaccaio» (The Tobacconists’ Voice) an “enquiry” in which it treats its tobacconist members like illiterate idiots. Forgetting that the EU has been involved in legal action against Italy since 2007 for price gouging, the FIT affirms to its tobacconists: “So far, Italy has been considered by all the European Union a model of the smooth functioning of the market.”
According to the FIT, taxes cannot be raised “because in this case the producers would be forced to impose compensating price increases, which consumers would find hard to sustain,” and the FIT concludes: “Italy has reached its equilibrium, now it is time for European institutions to find theirs.”
For those who would like to read FIT’s insane “enquiry,” too hard for us to comment, here’s the link:
- “Inchiesta FIT: «Una doppia legnata?» (The FIT enquiry: a double beating?) – La Voce del Tabaccaio no. 16, April 2012 (ITA)
The Big Tobacco «Lobby» at its Final Test
The FIT hopes that the Consiglio di Stato (Council of State) will put things right «metta le cose a posto». But the Consiglio di Stato appeal is only a routine procedure for the AAMS, a contrary outcome is technically impossible. If the FIT had read the sentence, it would know that even an “inciucio”—a vile political compromise—in the worst Italian style would not be feasible, because, it would take someone like the emperor Caligula, who was capable of nominating a horse a senator.
Despite everything, the concern remains, because with the liberalization of the market, the tobacco manufacturers’ cartel (Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco) will die. The economic damage for them will add up to hundreds of millions of euro per year – to the benefit of the State coffers and the Italian people.
What emeritus ass-lickers will come out into the field now? What will its powerful and dangerous lobby pull out of its top-hat?