Commons souvenir that comes with a government health warning

The Government has faced heavy flak for seeming to have softened its stance on the issue of tobacco sponsorship. But it should be grateful that critics failed to notice the smoke signals closer to home.

For as ministers thrash out whether tobacco sponsorship encourages people to smoke, the Government has come under fire for failing to ban sales of its own House of Commons branded cigarettes. The offending items came to light when Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, asked the chairman of the catering committee in a written question whether he would "take steps to discourage sales" of the cigarettes.

Dennis Turner, Labour MP for Wolverhampton SE, replied: "It would be very unusual if a chairman of the Catering Committee sought to discourage the sale and consumption of items sold as gifts and souvenirs from the Refreshment Department outlets ... The view of the Committee was that for as long as the smoking of tobacco products was legal, then it was acceptable for the Department's outlets to sell cigarettes."

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