Conservative and DUP politicians have been criticised for attending tobacco industry events in Parliament, with Labour describing the meetings as “unsettling.”
Articles by The Guardian and The Times revealed that MPs including John Whittingdale, Nigel Evans, Craig Mackinley and Ian Paisley had attended events organised by the Tobacco Manufacturer’s Association (TMA), JTI, BAT or PMI since July 2016.
Labour health spokesman Justin Madders questioned whether “events like this are appropriate in the modern day”, but the MPs and groups named said the events are vital to tackling the illicit trade.
The Treasury now loses £3bn per year as a result of illicit tobacco sales.
TMA director-general Giles Roca said efforts to prevent MPs from speaking with tobacco groups were “short sighted” due to “the negative impact that issues such as the illicit tobacco trade have on many MPs’ constituents and small retailers.”
An industry source previously told Retail Express that public pressure on MPs not to engage with the tobacco industry was preventing politicians from understanding the impacts of illicit trade, taxation and law changes on retailers.
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