Who is the worse Mafioso? The one who kisses Toto’ Riina on the cheek, or the one who works so that Philip Morris, the greatest thief of Italian history, can continue to take home billions of euro that belong to the Italians?
The Honorable Renzo Patria, of Forza Italia and an old Christian Democratic bureaucrat, is known as the “number one lobbyist” of Philip Morris in Italy – a very prestigious position!
But at the age of 76, Mr. Patria should be stimulated by thoughts and fruitful reflections on the hereafter and the spiritual side of existence. Instead, it seems that Onorevole Patria prefers to spend his time giving Italians kicks in the behind with the gusto of a youngster… up to his last breath!
After the “Assotabacco,” so-called “Associazione Nazionale Imprese Europee Produttrici di Sigarette” (National Association of European Businesses Producers of Cigarettes), with which he managed to get himself into the Confindustria, the latest stunt in the glorious career as “lobbyist” of the Honorable Mr. Patria has been the “Filtabacco.”
This organization presents itself as the “spokesman of the opinions of subjects involved in the Tobacco production chain in Italy.” Actually it is a support activity for the interests of Philip Morris.
On July 16th 2008, Laslo Kovacs, European Commissioner for Fiscal Affairs and the Customs Union (Commissario Europeo per la Fiscalità e l’Unione Doganale), in a press conference on “Modifications of the Taxation of Tobacco,” introduced a tax proposal “whose preparation has had the contribution of all the subjects involved in the sector.”
But along with the tobacco multinationals, whom we believed to be the only parties invited, we discover today that in the discussions with Kovacs, there was someone else with the position of “bearer of the opinion of the tobacco chain in Italy.”
Europe was getting ready for the post-Minimum Price, but Yesmoke, originator of the change thanks to its lawsuit against the Minimum Price, had not been consulted. In fact, it was already there… the Filtabacco.
The indomitable Onorevole Patria had pretended to fight for the interests of the small producers, with proposals (that demonstrate his total ignorance of the sector) that go beyond even the requirements of Philip Morris.
The lobbyist had proposed not only the introduction of a system of minimum excise that would penalize even further any manufacturer who did not uniform his prices to those of Marlboros, but also the introduction of the Minimum Price all over Europe.
Laslo Kovacs, who sometimes seems to be for the European Commission the equivalent of what Onorevole Patria is for Italy, defends the interests of the multinationals presenting absurd proposals for new forms of taxation.
Laslo Kovacs, however, is better prepared than Onorevole Patria, and he paid no attention to Patria’s proposal to apply the Minimum Price in all the European countries, besides, obviously, maintaining it in Italy.
In fact, the E.U has ruled that the Minimum Price is illegal, and after a number of reproofs has even taken Italy before the European Court of Justice on the issue. Continuing to propose the Minimum Price to the EU is insane.
And even more insane was the insinuation that Mr. Patria’s proposals involved also the name of Yesmoke, that Filtabacco allowed people to understand it was representing.
The “lobbyists” of Big Tobacco, besides being accomplices of thieves in exchange for low-profile compensation, despicable from every point of view, are offensive and superficial.
The occult power that the lobbyists claim to have and that supports the “tobacco lobby” should not be overestimated, and no one must think that it is destined to infest Italy forever.
Yesmoke’s victory with the ruling of the TAR (Regional Tribunal) of Lazio on January 28, that cancelled the last two price increases (before the State Council —Consiglio di Stato— on March 12th, suspended the measure) is proof that the tobacco lobby is not invincible.
Born in Frugarolo (Alessandria) on 10 November 1933, he has a degree in Business Administration (Economia e Commercio) , a company consultant, an ex-member of the Chamber of Deputies in the VIII, IX, X, XI legislatures, Mr Patria has been enrolled in the parliamentary group of Forza Italia since the 27 April 2006.