Philip Morris accused of applying ‘intense pressure’ on MEPs ahead of vote on banning some cigarettes

Tobacco giant ‘spent over €1m lobbying MEPs’ before key vote

Whitehall Editor

A tobacco company that employed David Cameron’s chief strategist was today accused of spending up to €1.25m (£1m) on wooing MEPs to vote against a stringent new European directive on the sale of cigarettes.

Under plans to be debated in Strasbourg on Monday, menthol and “slim” cigarettes would be banned across the EU while all packs would have to carry health warnings over three quarters of the packaging. But following intense lobbying from Philip Morris International (PMI), the makers of Marlboro, right-wing MEPs have tabled a series of amendments that would gut the directive of its most far-reaching proposals.

PMI has a contract with the lobbying firm Crosby Textor Fullbrook (CTF) that is partly owned by Lynton Crosby – the Conservative’s chief election strategist. CTF said it could not comment on whether it had been involved in the European lobbying campaign.

At a briefing in Brussels, Green MEPs revealed details of what they said were internal documents from PMI that showed the extent of their lobbying operation. A company spreadsheet showed that it used 161 employees and consultants in lobbying, and that in the year to June 2012, the lobbyists claimed around €1.25m in expenses for their meetings with MEPs. It also revealed that by 22 June last year, 233 MEPs – 31 per cent of the total – had met PMI at least once. In a separate spreadsheet, several MEPs were listed as having seen PMI four or five times.

The slides also show how PMI targeted farmers’ organisations, retail bodies and trade and business associations to garner support.

German MEP Rebecca Harms said: “It is important for politicians to get information by the affected industries when deciding on legislation. But the amount of lobbying on the tobacco directive... shows that this goes beyond information and turns into intense lobbying pressure.”

PMI’s wish-list of main legislative changes includes removing a ban on menthols, having health warnings only at the bottom of packs, with a reduced size. Among the MEPs to have scripted pro-tobacco text is Poland’s Jolanta Hibner, who tabled an amendment to remove the ban of menthol.

She told the website that menthol was a commonly used food additive. “It is widely used in products like toothpaste, and there are no proofs of its harmfulness,” she said. Poland is one of the biggest producers and consumers of menthol cigarettes. She added: “I did not have any meetings with representatives of the tobacco industry.”

Critics claim menthol is a facilitator to get young people to smoke because it reduces the coughing reflex. PMI, which says it generates some €14.6bn in tax revenue in the EU, has cornered more than half of the menthol cigarette market.

In a statement PMI said: “We report our activity on the EU Transparency Register, where we have reported estimated costs between €1m to €1.25m for representing PMI’s interests to EU institutions in 2012. This figure includes staffing costs, travel expenses and publicly disclosed membership of relevant business associations. ”

PMI added that CTF advises Philip Morris Ltd in the UK “on a range of matters”.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?