At the industry’s ‘Inter-tabac’ conference in Dortmund on Friday, the industry admitted that German revenues in the first half of the year had reached nearly €11.7 billion, up from €11 billion in the same time period last year.
But they complained about a planned new European Union directive which could force manufacturers to display larger health warnings on cigarette packs from 2014. Many tobacco products would have to be hidden from public view under the new rules.
These requirements alone could slowly strangle the industry, said Adam-Claus Eckert of the Federation of Tobacco Retailers (BTWE). Lobbyists are drawing up plans in Brussels – where the European Union’s institutions are based – to fight the proposals.
The tobacco industry also said that while tax increases could be dealt with, they needed to be clearly spelled out in advance and be reasonable. Taxes on tobacco have been increasing steadily over the last few years – something anti-tobacco activists say discourages smoking. Today a pack of cigarettes in Germany costs around €4.90. With planned tax increases, prices will hit €5.20 in 2015.
Among the biggest challenges for the industry, however, is the massive spread of black market cigarettes. About 20 percent of all cigarettes in Germany are smuggled illegally from countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Russia and go entirely untaxed.
The industry and police have created task forces to deal with the problem, but to little effect.