Philip Morris lobbying tactics revealed
EU health legislation delayed
Philip Morris International (PMI) employed 161 people to combat a major piece of European Union legislation that health campaigners say would save lives.
Under proposals by the commission's ENVI public health committee, cigarette companies would be forced to include large pictorial health warnings on tobacco products covering 75% of the front and back of packs. There would also be a ban on all flavoured tobacco products - such as menthol, vanilla and strawberry.
However the crucial vote has been delayed until 8th October 2013, which was seen as a significant victory by the tobacco industry due to the fact that time was running out to pass the bill before the new presidency passes from Lithuania which is pro-regulation, to Greece, which is opposed to tobacco control. Delaying the directive had been a key goal of the tobacco lobby.
Last week the Guardian reported that Internal PMI EU public affairs briefings from 2011 and 2012 marked "private and confidential. For internal discussion and illustration purposes only" - showed that Philip Morris was intent on derailing the directive. In one slide leaked to the paper dated 9 August 2012, PMI discussed whether its strategic objective is to "push" or to "delay" the vote.
A company spreadsheet revealed that it used 161 employees and consultants on lobbying. The spreadsheet showed that by 22 June 2012, 233 MEPs - 31% of the total - had been met by PMI at least once. Almost half of the European People's Party and European centre-right groups met with PMI's lobbyists. The spreadsheet showed that in 2012 lobbyists had claimed almost £1.25m in expenses for their meetings with MEPs.
The internal slides also revealed that PMI had targeted farmers organisations, retail bodies and trade and business associations to reach high-level decision makers in the European parliament and the European Commission. Other slides showed PMI's intention on generating negative opinions and ensuring that 'menthol be excluded from characterising flavours ban in TPD'.
PMI did not comment on the confidential documents. However said that "it believed the directive to be flawed".
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