POTENTIAL CLIENTS HAVE a right to know if Irish PR firms are representing the tobacco industry, Nessa Childers MEP has said ahead of World Cancer Day (4 February).
Childers said clients should be aware of “certain” Irish PR firms, which she claimed were “representing the tobacco industry and not being open and transparent about it”.
In a statement released today, Childers quoted the Public Relations Institute of Ireland Code of Conduct, which states that PR firms “shall properly inform clients about any potential conflicts of interest”.
Childers said firms are often representing health and sporting clients, while not disclosing that they also represent the tobacco industry which has the direct opposite goals of health and sporting organisations.
She said increased lobbying by the tobacco industry was being launched ahead of a major tobacco-control directive being negotiated in the European Parliament, and welcomed a greater push for health warnings on tobacco products.
“Australia has already brought in many of these tobacco controls, like plain packaging and pictorial warnings, and the EU should not be left behind in this vital fight against the tobacco industry,” she said.
“As we know, tobacco puts a heavy burden on governments and society as a whole. Costs include deaths and costs associated with inpatient and outpatient care. Non-smokers also pay for the costs of smoking, primarily in the form of higher health insurances and medical costs related to second-hand smoke, leading to higher taxes and higher prices for healthcare.”
Childers said the legislation was due to come before her Public Health Committee in the European Parliament, and vowed to fight for a strong EU tobacco law.