Cigarette firm Philip Morris 'tracked MPs' views on packaging'
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Sunday 28 July 2013
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.
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