British MPS ‘took tobacco firm hospitality’

British MPs accepted tickets to events including Wimbledon, Chelsea Flower Show and a Paul McCartney show, all paid for by the powerful tobacco industry, an investigation has revealed.

A report in the British Medical Journal found 38 MPs have accepted more than £60,000-worth (€85,000) of hospitality from the tobacco industry since 2010.

Twenty of the MPs recently voted against plain packaging on tobacco products, while more than half of them are from constituencies where the number of smoking-related deaths exceeds the national average, the investigation found.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, journalist Jonathan Gornall said while those against standardised packaging were out voted, “what remains relevant, however, is the extent to which the tobacco industry remains able to reach out and influence parliamentarians”.

He said there was “nothing to stop companies inviting lords and MPs along to the occasional big-ticket event, offering hospitality and talking things over in the convivial atmosphere of a private box or lounge” and there was no evidence that they did discuss any of the issues confronting their hosts.

“The extraordinary thing, perhaps, is just how many MPs seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to accept such largesse from an industry whose products kill so many of their constituents every year,” he said.

The MPs comprised 29 Conservatives, eight Labour, and one independent.


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