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200 jobs could be lost in Ballymena if tobacco packaging change is accepted – Jim Nicholson

Jim Nicholson MEP said that he fears that a decision due to be made this week regarding the Tobacco Products Directive will cost over 200 jobs at the JTI plant in Ballymena.  Negotiations between representatives from the European Parliament, European Commission and Council on this issue are in their final phase. 

Jim Nicholson said: 

“If this compromise regarding the size of packs of tobacco packaging is pushed through this week it could have dire consequences for Ballymena. There are jobs and livelihoods at stake and the last thing that Ballymena and Northern Ireland needs is the loss of 200 jobs. 

“My group in the European Parliament is standing firm in support of 20 gram packaging which the European Parliament voted for, but the compromise of 30 grams which is being considered as part of the negotiations will mean that one line will become obsolete at JTI`s Ballymena factory. 

“Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson is involved in the negotiations and has an opportunity to influence the final outcome as a shadow rapporteur.  However from her original position of supporting 40 gram packs and now accepting the 30 gram compromise Martina Anderson has been totally unhelpful to the situation locally. It certainly hasn`t helped to protect local jobs. Both she and the group to which she belongs have had little consideration for the people of Ballymena. I am at a loss as to how Martina Anderson has arrived at the conclusion that there isn`t a problem with accepting 30 gram packs. 

“While I am totally in support of ensuring young people are not encouraged to have easy access to tobacco this has no contribution to protecting them from the dangers of smoking and will only export 200 jobs outside Europe.”

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Ulster Unionists