Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Cigarette firm Philip Morris 'tracked MPs' views on packaging'


The world’s largest tobacco firm created a database tracking every British MP’s opinion on plain cigarette packaging as part of its successful lobbying campaign to block the rules, it was claimed on Sunday.

Philip Morris International, whose brands include Marlboro, laid out detailed proposals of how it would seek to stave off standardised packaging, including a spreadsheet indicating the believed position of every politician in the House of Commons, according to company documents marked “for internal discussion and illustration purposes only” which were obtained by The Observer.

The Government announced earlier this month that it was postponing plans to go ahead with plain packaging, a measure long called for by health campaigners who say it will deter young people from taking up smoking, until ministers have examined the impact of a similar scheme in Australia.

Lynton Crosby, the Conservative Party’s election strategist whose company CTF Partners was employed by Philip Morris since November 2012 to advise on its campaign, has denied having “any conversation” on standardised packaging with David Cameron.

The tobacco firm’s documents, which date from 2011, suggested it had the potential to help muster 18,000 responses to a Department of Health consultation on plain packaging. It also named organisations and firms it believed supported its position, including some supermarkets. Philip Morris did not respond to a request to comment.