Ernst Burgbacher, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology congratulated the Tobacco Company Reemtsma (Imperial Tobacco Group) in the name of German’s Federal Government.
The German Tobacco Company Reemtsma, part of the Imperial Tobacco Group, celebrated its 100th anniversary on March 25th at the East Hotel in Hamburg, Germany.There was at least one high-ranking German politician among the 850 guests: Ernst Burgbacher, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. Burgbacher did not only find words of praise for the company in his opening speech, he also congratulated Reemtsma in the name of Germany’s Federal Government. Johannes Spatz, spokesman of Forum Rauchfrei points out, that it is unacceptable that the German Government congratulates a tobacco company to 100 years of producing a lethal product. “This is not only morally outraging but clearly also a violation of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which the German Government has established as law” Spatz says.
Relations between the tobacco industry and the German State are tight, as another recent example shows. The Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), which in its own words “embodies the shared governmental responsibility for culture in Germany” gladly accepts the tobacco industry’s money. In return for sponsoring a currently shown exhibition at the contemporary art museum Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin the logo of Philip Morris was to be seen on a banner outside the building and on the museum’s official press releases. Furthermore the company was given a generous opportunity to promote its corporate image. “Part of the money, we depend on, comes from the tobacco industry” is the lapidary comment of the foundation’s president, Prof. Dr. Hermann Parzinger.
This intimacy of politicians and industrials prevents an effective tobacco control in Germany. Forum Rauchfrei demands from the government to fulfill its obligations to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: “Parties should interact with the tobacco industry only when and to the extent strictly necessary to enable them to effectively regulate the tobacco industry and tobacco products” (Guidelines for the implementation of article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control).