Nigel Farage made a high-profile appeal in support of electronic cigarettes shortly after the UK Independence Party received donations totalling tens of thousands of pounds from a manufacturer of the product, it has emerged.
Puffing on an e-cigarette, the Ukip leader appeared in a YouTube video urging the European Commission to abandon proposals to ban the tobacco substitute.
Electoral Commission records showed Ukip accepted £25,000 last May from Pillbox 38, a Blackburn-based firm which produces a range of e-cigarettes called Totally Wicked. It was among the biggest gifts the party received last year.
Two months later, the company’s founder, Jason Cropper, donated £11,000 to the party.
On the day in December when Brussels was due vote on banning the product, Mr Farage appeared in the video opposing the move. He argued that they were “cutting tobacco consumption massively”.
A Ukip spokesman said: “The only response we are giving is that Nigel Farage is well known for his libertarian views on such matters.”
In the end, a compromise was struck at Brussels imposing a limit on the amount of nicotine e-cigarettes could contain.