Tue, Sep 10, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Tobacco giant working to stop EU legislation

By Jamie Doward  /  The Observer, LONDON

There is also evidence that the company commissioned academic and economic studies to promote its claims.

One slide showed PMI’s intention to generate negative opinions about proposals put forward by the EC’s SANCO directorate — the body charged with ensuring health and consumer protection.

Another slide explained that it was PMI’s objective to ensure “that menthol be excluded from characterizing flavors banned” in the directive. PMI said it would not comment on the confidential documents leaked to the Observer. However, in a statement it said it believed the directive was flawed.

“It is up to the EU to set the timeline for considering this legislation, and it is our hope that these flaws will be addressed and that the EU implements a regulatory framework that is fair, science-based and makes sense in light of the EU’s priorities, without imposing unnecessary burden on the economy,” PMI said.

Separately, e-mails released under the Freedom of Information Act by the Department of Health reveal that concerns about the directive were shared by other tobacco firms.

Earlier this year, the department feared that Imperial Tobacco had obtained protected information from the European Council working group, which was helping draw up the directive.

The matter raised concerns that the tobacco lobby was in receipt of market sensitive information, raising questions about the relationship between Brussels and lobbyists.

Imperial wrote to the department to say it was alarmed to learn that in April the government had spoken in favor of plain packaging for cigarettes during a European Council working group meeting and demanded confirmation from the department.

When asked to reveal the source of its information Imperial declined to tell the department.

The department was forced to write to Imperial explaining that the council’s reports “are subject to principles of professional secrecy.”

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