The Pack of 10 Cigarettes – Is Abolition Coming?

Why haven’t Italian politicians lined up, with expected enthusiasm, with the American and European “politically correct” position saying no to the pack of 10 cigarettes?

Why has the “Bel Paese” that defended the minimum price against “low-cost cigarettes” paradoxically held on to the pack at half price?

Banned in the USA, Europe and in almost all Third World countries, because it promotes brand fidelity among young people, the 10-cigarette pack persists only in Italy. It is an important business strategy of foreign producers and no one knows the official figures on sales in Italy except the distributor and the producing companies, and they have no interest in revealing them. According to cigarette retailers, the 10-pack takes up about 20% of the Italian market.

Marino and Tomassini Tried

Ignazio Marino

Ignazio Marino

In draft law – DDL N. 8 – of April 2008, proposed by Senators Ignazio Marino (Democratic Party – PD), President of the Commission of Inquiry into the National Health Service, and Antonio Tomassini (People of Freedom Party – PDL), President of the Healthcare Commission, there was no mention of the 10-cigarette pack.

Fortunately, the bill did not proceed expeditiously and in February 2010, when the issue was still undecided, Yesmoke wrote to Senator Marino and all the members of the Twelfth Standing Committee on Health and Hygiene, 25 politicians in all, encompassing the entire Italian political panorama from the IDV to the PD and the PDL, explaining that the 10-cigarette pack would be officially shielded by their law if it was enacted.

There was no response, but two amendments to DDL No. 8 popped up: one of Marino, Bassoli, Biondelli, Bosone, Chiaromonte and Cosentino, which in point 4.5 says: “the sale of cigarettes in packaging of 10 units, is prohibited” and another of Belisario and Mascitelli, in point 4.6:

“It is forbidden to sell packages of cigarettes that contain a number of pieces less than twenty.”

Antonio Tomassini

Antonio Tomassini

Ignazio Marino’s initiative represented an important turning point. “…Lobbies permitting,” commented with foresight Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy’s foremost financial journal.

In fact, on July 5th of the same year in Rome during the conference: “Fumo: dipendenza o stile di vita?” (Smoking: Addiction or Lifestyle?), with the Minister of Health Ferruccio Fazio and a long line-up of luminaries, organized under the patronage of the Senate of the Republic and promoted by the “Parliamentary Association for the protection and promotion of the right to prevention,” Tomassini and Marino introduced a new bill, and always in perfect “bipartisan harmony,” they forgot all about the pack of 10 and the relative amendments.

And So Came Balduzzi’s Turn

Fortunately, a year later, when the issue was still stalled, the 10-cigarette pack showed up again.

Here’s what the ANSA printed on May 31st of this year:

“The extension of the smoking ban in parks, stadiums, public gardens and hospital courtyards is being studied, along with attention to the proposal to introduce a prohibition on sales to minors, and the abolition of packs of 10 cigarettes.”

Renato Balduzzi, Minister of Health, spoke about the need to abolish the pack of 10 cigarettes, but subsequently, under pressure from lobbyists, he has not gone ahead with the plan

Renato Balduzzi, Minister of Health

This was affirmed by the current Minister of Health, Renato Balduzzi, in the framework of a conference on World No Tobacco Day (Giornata Mondiale senza Tabacco).

Will Balduzzi go ahead with his proposal, or will he do what Marino and Tomassini did? And how will the lobby react?

Hopefully Balduzzi will take into account that, not only has the Istituto Superiore della Sanità (National Institute of Health) for a long time called for the abolition of the 10-cigarette pack, but also that Italy has joined the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – FCTC, as detailed in the report of the Ministry of Health on “Activities for the Prevention of Nicotine Poisoning,” published on January 10th, 2012 (see page 11), ratified by our country with Law No. 75 of 18 March 2008. The commitments deriving from Italy’s FCTC ratification include measures to raise the age of prohibition to sell cigarettes to minors from 16 to 18, the introduction of additional health warnings and the abolition of the pack of 10 cigarettes.

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