Testing of tobacco products on animals

19 June 2013    
Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa (PPE)


The testing of cosmetic products on animals and imports of such products into the EU have been largely regulated, but the closely linked issue of testing tobacco products on animals, in particular on rats, monkeys or dogs, remains a grey area. Although tests which involve exposing animals to tobacco smoke for many years under atrocious conditions are prohibited in the EU, there are no such restrictions on tobacco products imported into the EU by the well-known manufacturers which carry out these tests. Leading importers include China, Brazil, India, Turkey and the US.

Attempts to verify the damaging side-effects of nicotine are a pointless exercise nowadays, since the harmful nature of nicotine consumption has been proven beyond all doubt. A further reason why there are no grounds whatsoever for this research is that animals react differently to toxins, and moreover animals in the laboratory are not exposed to tobacco smoke in the same way as people.

1. How does the Commission intend to promote EU practices outside its borders in such a way as to influence the actions of tobacco groups and producers?

2. Does the Commission intend to block imports of tobacco products tested on animals?

3. How can the Commission argue in favour of maintaining the European Union’s cooperation with tobacco companies when the above proves them to be indifferent to the fate of animals?

2 August 2013    

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

The EU legislation does not include a prohibition for testing tobacco products with animals. However, Directive 2010/63/EU(1), that took full effect on 1 January 2013, provides a legal framework to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals used for scientific purposes in the EU.

At this stage the Commission has not taken any specific action against imported tobacco products in this respect, nor are there any immediate plans to do so.

Article 5(3) of the framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) obliges the EU and its Member States to protect their public health policies from any commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.

(1)    OJ L 276/33, 20 October 2010. Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes.