NEWS: Tobacco lobby targets Labour MPs in final bid

The tobacco industry is launching a lobbying campaign among Labour MPs in the hope of heading off a ban on advertising if the party wins the general election.

The tobacco industry is launching a lobbying campaign among Labour MPs

in the hope of heading off a ban on advertising if the party wins the

general election.



The Tobacco Manufacturers Association is to target those Labour MPs who

have large numbers of people employed in tobacco-related jobs in their

constituencies.



If Labour wins power, the industry will urge ministers to stop short of

a total ban. Options could include tightening up the existing voluntary

agreement on advertising and allowing the promotion of low-tar brands,

such as Marlboro Lights, to continue.



Before the election, the TMA is holding talks with individual Labour MPs

in a bid to influence opinion inside the party.



The TMA is armed with new research giving a constituency-by-constituency

breakdown of how many jobs depend on the tobacco industry.



The survey by the Tobacco Alliance, which is funded by the TMA, found

285,000 tobacco-related jobs. The MPs among those with the highest

number include the Labour leader, Tony Blair; Labour frontbenchers,

Clare Short, Alistair Darling and Dawn Primarolo; the Tory chairman,

Brian Mawhinney; and David Trimble, the leader of the Ulster Unionists.



Speaking to health officials last Thursday, Blair said: ‘It is up to an

individual whether they smoke or not. But it is simply not true to say

the Government can do nothing to affect that choice. We have made it

clear that we will initiate a ban on tobacco advertising and focus on

programmes that help pregnant mothers to give up.’



However, one Labour source admitted: ‘There are a lot of jobs at stake.

Constituency factors are bound to weigh heavily in the minds of some

Labour MPs.’



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