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Tobacco industry is lobbying MEPs 'all the time'

Labour’s Phil Prendergast has said lobby groups are courting MEPs, hoping to encourage them to dilute directives that would be harmful to the industry.

Image: Smoking image via Shutterstock

LABOUR MEP PHIL Prendergast has said that tobacco industry is lobbying MEPs all the time to influence people on committees, hoping to encourage them to dilute directives that would be harmful to the industry.

In an interview with Karen Coleman for EP radio, she said that lobby groups are approaching MEPs and their staff, hoping to “have an input” and reminding them how much tobacco means to the economy and to the jobs market.

I know that they are doing this all of the time, meeting all other MEPs and sometimes meeting newer MEPs, because there’s new MEPs coming and going all the time in the parliament, and trying to get a foothold where they can influence people on committees whose committees then make amendments that maybe would dilute a directive that would see how harmful the tobacco industry is. They’re trying to all the time dilute that on the basis that they’re doing something good for the person’s country or perhaps even a party.

Rachel Foley of the Irish Cancer Society said that the organisation was “not surprised” to hear that this was happening in Europe as proposed legislation would mean the industry would” have less freedom to manipulate smokers and to encourage young people to start smoking”.

“The health lobby is very strong as well though, and the majority of people would support legislation aimed at protecting children’s health,” she said.

John Mallon, spokesperson for the smokers rights group Forest Éireann told TheJournal.ie that as the tobacco industry collects taxes on behalf of the government, it is to be expected that lobbying would take place.

“I have no doubt that the Irish Cancer Society in Europe are also lobbying the same people,” he said.

“Smoking is a health issue, but so is obesity and alcohol abuse and those are not lobbied as extensively,” Mallon added.

Read: Taoiseach, ministers criticised for “inappropriate” tobacco industry meeting>

Read: Almost 7 per cent drop shows smoking ban is working, insists Cancer Society>

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