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John Player argues for tobacco industry's "voice to be heard"

“Democracy is not the sole preserve of the NGO community,” said the tobacco company in its submission to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Image: Seth Wenig/AP/Press Association Images

TOBACCO COMPANY JOHN Player has said that suggestions that the tobacco industry should be excluded from regulatory consultations would be a breach of the basic principles of democracy.

In a submission to the Government about regulations on lobbying, the company said that any such exclusion would show “favoritism and bias” toward specific interests. This would “undermine the integrity, legitimacy and the quality of regulatory processes in which the tobacco industry holds a stake,” it added.

Democracy is not the sole preserve of the NGO community. Corporate entities also have a right to have their voice heard on matters of public policy.

It is up to the Government or regulator to apportion weight to various submissions before they make their final decisions, argued John Player in response to suggestions from non-government organisations that engagement with the tobacco industry should be limited to only where it is strictly necessary.

It its own communication to Minister Brendan Howlin’s department, the Irish Cancer Society said that young people in Ireland should be protected from the “tactics employed by the tobacco industry”.

Yesterday, the Government published the 53 public submissions it received on its proposal for a new register of lobbyists.

A number of groups lobbying to influence the final decisions on such a register included charities and representative groups who wanted to see a clearer definition of what a lobbyist actually is.

The Irish Property Owners Association said in its submission: “Obviously, lobbying on behalf of a major company, or a trade union, or a large national organisation is in a different league to an individual talking to a friend who happens to be a decision-maker.”

Organisations such as the Irish Pharmacy Union and Law Society said that representative bodies, whose purpose is self-evident, should be exempt from registering. The IPU said having to register as a lobbyist would lead to “unnecessary bureaucracy and costs on all sides”.

More: Public submissions show support for ‘cooling-off’ period for political lobbying>

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