Letter: Tobacco firms deny 'pay-off'

Sir: You report ("Tories accused of tobacco industry pay-off", 22 March) allegations about the tobacco industry's recent voluntary agreement with the Government on permitted additives. The impression has been given that some sinister deal was done behind closed doors.

There has been no "pay-off", as ASH describes, and it is scurrilous to suggest such a notion.

The list of permitted additives which has been recently reviewed and updated consists of either natural ingredients, or those which can properly be described as "nature-identical". This list has long been held by the Department of Health, and is in the public domain.

Such added ingredients in the UK are mainly concerned with flavourings for pipe, hand-rolling, and cigar tobaccos, with regular cigarettes here overwhelmingly consisting of nothing more than the basic tobacco, plus some water content, all within the

paper tubing, along with its filter.

As for the reference to the Government's failure to reach its 1994 objectives in terms of reducing teenage smoking, it has now been admitted that the targets set were hopelessly unrealistic. Looking back over 12 years of Government research findings, smoking incidence among the under-16s has shown one year's upturn offset by another's downturn. The overall trend has been remarkably stable.


Tobacco Manufacturers' Association

London SW1