Date: October 2020
Author: Inspector Z

Plain packaging coming to The Netherlands. The new legislation is planned to be implemented from January 1st, 2022. But how strict that legislation is going to be is yet to be seen. Right now, the only thing that the Dutch government revealed is that plain packaging is being implemented. On the date, January 1st, 2022. There will be no exemption for cigars and pipe tobacco as for now. 

Ministry of Cigars - Plain packaging coming to The Netherlands
This is what a walk-in humidor looks like with plain packaging

EU regulations

The European Union created a set of rules and guidelines for the tobacco industry called the Tobacco Products Directive. It places limits on the sale and merchandising of tobacco and tobacco-related products. This TPD2 set of rules became effective in May 2016. It also includes rules for packaging. For example, health warnings have to cover 65% of the product packaging. This includes the front and back of cigarette and roll-your-own tobacco packages. And small containers for certain tobacco products. This directive bans all promotional or misleading sectors on tobacco products. 

The TPD2 has a progressive character. The set of rules includes plain packaging. Several EU members are moving towards that direction. Yet, each and every member has the right to exclude certain tobacco products. France and the United Kingdom excluded cigars from the plain packaging rules. Belgium excluded cigars for now, and Germany is also not targeting cigars. Ireland already introduced plain packaging for cigars. If nothing changes, The Netherlands faces plain packaging for cigars from January 1st, 2022.
My Father Fonseca plain packaged and without the plain packaging

Lobbying and lawsuits

The Dutch government refuses to have representatives from the tobacco industry as discussion partners. They also do not allow lobbying for the tobacco industry. Therefore there are only two options. A large lobby by combined tobacconists to prevent this. And legal action from the tobacco industry against the new plans. Cubacigar Benelux, the Habanos distributor in Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg filed a lawsuit but lost. We also interviewed (then) managing director for Cubacigar Tony Hoevenaars about the case. 

All in all, it’s not looking good for the Dutch tobacconists. Nor for the Dutch cigar manufacturers such as Agio, Olifant, Van der Donk. Or for the brands available on the Dutch market. A shame in a country with such a large and long tobacco history. And not exempting cigars is a shame. Cigars are not for young smokers. Cigars are not as unhealthy as cigarettes. Cigarettes are a product for smokers with an addiction. Every cigar smoker is an adult, who is a conscious smoker. On top of that, plain packaging is not as effective as Australia showed. 

Leave a Reply