28. Jan. 2011
Many countries are making savings in health prevention and work control. That is counter-productive
THE PRESIDENT - Thank you. I call Mr Gross to speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.
Mr GROSS (Switzerland) - The social democrats thank Ms Maury Pasquier for her work, and we want to emphasize a few points, some of which have already been mentioned.
The poorer people are, the more they behave in ways that are not good for their health. I was saddened to see in the 1990s in Albania, Ukraine and Moldova that for many poor people, smoking is the only luxury in life. By doing so, they greatly endanger their health, however. People who are 40 look 60 or 75. This is hidden in our societies in the west, but it is obvious in the east. Over the past 20 years, smoking rates have decreased greatly in the west because of education and prevention programs. As a result, tobacco companies do not sell more cigarettes in the west, but they now sell more in the east. These injustices exist both on an individual and a European level therefore.
As Mrs Ohlsson said in the previous debate, we often forget that the biggest source of ill health, disease and low life expectancy is the conditions in which some people have to work. Those who do not have the privilege of being employed in a good profession and doing nice work can have to do unhealthy work. That is another reason why it is important to uphold the control mechanism in the Social Charter even in developed societies, as we must control work environments better and protect those who might be working in bad conditions.
As both our Armenian colleague, Mrs Naghdalyan, and Mrs Andersen said in the previous debate, many budgets are being cut, and many countries are making savings in health prevention and work control. That is counter-productive. These tax savings do not have to be made. Some of the people who would profit most when the state does its work in these areas vote for tax savings not knowing that they are disadvantaging themselves, because they do not save as much in lower taxes as they would gain from the state preventing them from becoming ill.
We should keep these contexts in mind, and I am very grateful to Liliane Maury Pasquier for reminding us of them. We should take these matters seriously.