Bulgarian AgriMin Confirms No EC Ban on Turkish Tobacco
The European Commission doesn't plan to ban the growing and processing of Turkish tobacco, Bulgarian Minister of Agriculture, Miroslav Naydenov, reiterated from Brussels.
Naydenov, cited by the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, said Tuesday that Directive 37 would not affect in any way oriental tobacco as cigarette ingredient, which subsequently does not threaten its production.
"I think this is the news Bulgarian tobacco growers and makers were anticipating," the Minister declared, adding he has received the personal assurances of the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli.
Reports that the European Commission plans to ban the growing and processing of Turkish tobacco stirred alarm in Bulgaria.
One week ago, Frederic Vincent, a spokesperson of Dalli refuted them as well, but confirmed that changes in the EU Directive for Tobacco Products are going to be implemented by the end of 2012.
In his statement the spokesperson stressed that currently the EC is not planning to examine the issue with Turkish tobacco.
The Bulgarian Member of the European Parliament, Maria Gabriel, member of the Agriculture Committee, explained the alarm in Bulgaria was caused by worries Turkish tobacco will be included in the group of the so-called aroma ingredients such as menthol and cherry, which will be most likely banned in the EU via an amendment of the tobacco directive, due to their addictive effect.
In mid-September, Naydenov invited Bulgarian MEPs from all political groups on a meeting to forge a common position in defense of Turkish tobacco varieties.
Turkish tobacco, also known as Oriental tobacco, signifies a number of aromatic varieties of the plant developed and grown in the area of what once was the Ottoman Empire.
It currently comprises the vast majority of tobacco grown in Bulgaria, being also widely grown in neighboring Greece, Turkey and Macedonia, as well as in Italy.
Minister Naydenov called on Bulgarian national institutions and MEPs to do everything they can to preserve the culture grown for centuries by Bulgarian tobacco farmers.
Turkish/Oriental tobacco, along with Virginia and Burley is one of the three main types of tobacco varieties grown worldwide.
The EU is planning a ban on certain tobaccos in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
According to the convention, these varieties are to be discontinued, as blended cigarettes in which they are used need additional allegedly dangerous additives to be produced.
Critics of the ban have said that it is pointless in terms of health benefits and will just contribute to ruining the economy of communities where Turkish tobacco and Burley are main sources of livelihood.
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