Statement by Jim Allister MLA:
“The new outworking of the unaccountable, undemocratic and unwanted EU is to impose the Tobacco Products Directive which has the potential to add fuel to the already well lit fire of the illegal tobacco market that is lining the pockets of terrorist groupings in Northern Ireland.
“The EU is seeking to abolish the packets of cigarettes which have less than 20, and to abolish small pouches of rolling tobacco. While I am supportive and welcome attempts to promote awareness of the detrimental health impact of smoking, this EU diktat will only result in a rise in the demand for illegal, counterfeit tobacco that funds terrorism.
“With the recent exposure in Ballymena of the selling of illegal cigarettes this is a timely reminder of the impact of purchasing and selling such products. The criminal gangs that import these cheaper alternatives are likely to be paying into the coffers of armed and active terrorist groupings. North Antrim has a mass employer in JTI which would suffer a knock on effect through this illicit activity – that means job losses.
“I have written to the UK Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt, outlining my concerns and asking him to frustrate this misjudged and unwelcome intervention by the EU. I have been inundated with letters, emails and telephone calls from concerned constituents and I will ensure their voice is heard.’