Former Chancellor of Germany Helmut Schmidt, 94, is stockpiling his favorite menthol cigarette while the European Union is considering banning flavored cigarettes.
A lifelong smoker, Schmidt has 200 cartons or 38,000 of Reyno cigarettes costing him more than $9,000.
Schmidt was the chancellor of then-West Germany from 1974 to 1982. Never appearing on TV without a cigarette in his hand, he is known for being allowed to smoke in places where it is banned, including in congress.
His secret stash was outed at a campaign event Monday by Pee Steinbruck, a fellow social democrat in Germany.
“The EU Commission must be dissuaded from trying to regulate everything in detail,” Steinbruk said.
“I do believe that this is truly an important step because it is about stopping the next generation ever getting hooked,” Irish health minister James Reilly told reporters in June. Reilly called smoking the “greatest, preventable, avoidable threat to people’s health.”
The EU legislation to curb the number of smokers in Europe would ban menthol, fruit and chocolate flavored cigarettes. The legislation would also put large graphic warnings on cigarettes.
“The economic arguments for not intervening can carry no weight ... it can never be a choice between jobs and lives,” Reilly said. “We have to take every opportunity we can to make sure more people not become enslaved to this product.”
The new rules would take three or four years to implement if they make it through the European Parliament in July.
“I’ll continue fighting until we do reach a stage where we have a tobacco-free Europe,” Reilly said.
Until then, Schmidt has enough cigarettes to allow him to smoke a pack a day into his hundreds.