Tobacco lobby told Government: branding ban will cost you millions

 

Department of Health civil servants met lobbyists from the cigarette manufacturer Imperial Tobacco before the Government shelved proposals to introduce plain packaging laws this week, it can be revealed.

The lobbyists warned the health officials that the plans could cost the Treasury hundreds of millions of pounds in lost income.

Two representatives from the Bristol-based British tobacco giant – producers of Davidoff, Gauloises, West, John Player Special and Golden Virginia – met three economists from the Department of Health (DoH) and its tobacco programme manager in January this year.

According to a redacted note of the meeting released under the Freedom of Information Act this week, Richard Ross and Colin Wragg, Imperial Tobacco’s UK head of political affairs and head of corporate and legal affairs, wanted to discuss the financial impact of the Government’s proposals to introduce plain packaging laws.

The first item discussed was “cost areas” associated with the proposals.

Imperial warned the possible effect would be “critical to the industry and Treasury”. It said the Treasury lost £3bn a year in unpaid duty and VAT on illicit tobacco and warned that for every 1 per cent increase in illegal tobacco the Treasury could lose “£110m-plus”.

The lobbyists added the proposals would result in losses of “several hundred millions”. They then “stressed” that 70,000 jobs rely either directly or indirectly on the tobacco supply chain in the UK.

Three months after the meeting in April, a minister familiar with the consultation process, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Independent: “My concern is that the tobacco companies have inveigled their way into persuading a number of important players to reject standardised packaging.”

The Imperial figures are disputed by anti-tobacco campaigners who claim the illicit market has been on a downward trend since 2000. Speaking yesterday, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health, said: “The tobacco industry clearly tried to use this meeting with officials to lobby against standard packaging rather than provide any hard evidence.”  She added: “Industry figures on smuggling are way higher than any government or independent analysis.”

Whitehall sources confirmed the plan was being put on hold on Thursday. The development came as Imperial posted its first fall in half-year profits in 17 years this week as cigarette volumes sold in Europe dropped. The company holds a 45 per cent share of the UK tobacco market.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Any decision to take further action will be taken only after full consideration of the consultation responses, evidence and other relevant information.”

An Imperial spokesman said: “We’ve said that there’s no credible evidence to suggest that plain packaging would reduce tobacco consumption.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect