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
The Tobacco Manufacturers Association is to target those Labour MPs who
have large numbers of people employed in tobacco-related jobs in their
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