Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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Tobacco lobbyists all fired up ahead of key vote

With a crucial European Parliament ENVI committee vote on new tobacco legislation taking place later this week, this new report sheds some light on the extent and scope of tobacco lobbying in the Parliament. The tobacco industry has a long record of manipulation and disinformation, which has resulted in UN law intended to minimise interactions between the tobacco industry and public-health policy makers, as well as to ensure their transparency – the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). But the lobby battle going on around the EU's new Tobacco Products Directive shows considerable activity from traditional tobacco lobbyists and electronic cigarette firms, as well as from NGOs working on public health. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) report free e-cigarettes delivered to their letter boxes; unsolicited tobacco lobbyists turning up in their offices; numerous invitations to drinks, dinners and cocktail events; targeted social media and email campaigns coordinated by tobacco companies; indirect lobbying through small retailers, anti-counterfeiting firms and farmers’ groups; and, allegations of industry-sourced amendments.

For a PDF version of this article, with the Annexes, please click here.

On 10 and 11 July, the European Parliament’s environment, health and food safety committee (ENVI) votes on the 1,360 amendments that MEPs have tabled to the Commission's proposal for a new Tobacco Products Directive. The European Commission's proposal includes graphic photos and text warnings to cover 75% of the front and back of cigarette packs, restrictions on the sale of slim cigarettes, menthol and flavoured cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, and the regulation of Internet sales. New EU health Commissioner Tonio Borg says the ambition of the new Tobacco Products Directive is to make “tobacco products and smoking less attractive and thus discourage tobacco initiation among young people”.1 Commissioner Borg has publicly stated that legislation should be in force by 2016 at the latest, and that means getting it adopted before the current European Parliament’s term expires in summer 2014.

With the Tobacco Products Directive now in the hands of the European Parliament and European Council, this report offers a curtain-raiser on the intensity of tobacco lobbying towards MEPs whose support could help change the game. This report documents the experiences of some MEPs, their assistants, and political advisers, who have testified that the tobacco and electronic cigarette lobby are becoming more aggressive as the voting approaches. It comes just weeks after the European Parliament's committee on legal affairs and committee on trade, voted to weaken the tobacco law on key points that are remarkably in line with tobacco industry wishes. This gives the clearest sign yet that the strategically targeted tobacco industry lobbying of the Parliament is having effect. As MEPs in the ENVI committee, the lead committee on the tobacco law, prepare to vote this week, CEO wafts a breeze through the smoky conduct of one of the dirtiest industries in lobbying history.

Tobacco lobby targets European Parliament

A previous investigation by CEO found around 97 full time tobacco lobbyists working in Brussels, with an annual lobbying budget of around €5.3 million.2 These estimates were based on entries in the EU's voluntary lobby register - which is, by its nature, incomplete and partly inaccurate3 – and so are almost certainly underestimates. For this new report, we called and emailed dozens of MEPs, their assistants, political advisers and campaign groups during June 2013, in order to get a picture of the scale of tobacco lobbying in the run up to the European Parliament vote. (See Annex 1)

Karl-Heinz Florenz MEP from the European People’s Party (EPP) described how he had received numerous emails, letters, position papers and phone calls on the Tobacco Products Directive. He sent CEO a list of all the tobacco and electronic cigarette industry organisations who had contacted him in the last six months. This list shows that nearly 40 different tobacco industry actors, from individual companies and industry federations to lobby consultancies representing tobacco companies have contacted him in the last half year. (See Annex 2)

Various MEPs and assistants from different parties have confirmed a picture of heavy lobbying, particularly since last Autumn, with emails coming in multiple times a week and meeting requests cited from various tobacco companies and public affairs consultants representing them, from several different countries. One political advisor, on the topic of the tobacco lobby, said: “On a scale of 1 to 10, they’re 11... They’re lobbying us to death ”.

Lots of tobacco lobby contacts... when UN law says there shouldn't be

The United Nation's World Health Organisation (WHO)'s 2005 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is premised on the basic fact that there is an irreconcilable difference between the interests of the tobacco industry (producing and selling as much of a substance as possible, in order to maximise profit) and that of public health regulators (reducing the consumption of that same substance as much as possible, in order to minimise cancers and other negative health impacts). This piece of international law (to which the EU, and all member states, is a signatory) not only requires transparency around all contacts between public health policy-makers and the tobacco industry but requires that they are avoided and limited only to contacts that are strictly necessary to regulate the industry.4 Or put another way, as the Smoke Free Partnership's Florence Bertelletti Kemp does, "If you want to resolve malaria, you’re not going to include the mosquito."

Thus, MEPs, as with all policy-makers involved in legislating on public health, should– as a matter of law - be having as few contacts with the tobacco industry as is strictly necessary to regulate them, and all interactions that do take place should be fully transparent. This is an industry unique in having international law that governs contacts between that industry and the people charged with regulating it, and this is because close ties between them have been shown to be so harmful in the past. Aggressive and deceptive lobbying and willful disinformation by the tobacco industry has been globally documented for over half a century.

Public health lobby: outnumbered, out-gunned?

The tobacco industry are not the only ones lobbying around the Tobacco Products Directive. Public health and anti-smoking groups are also active lobbying the Parliament in the run up to the vote on legislation which has the potential to impact the nearly 700 000 tobacco related deaths in the EU each year.5 But another distinction – beyond the rules in the FCTC - that should be made is that even though tactics may sometimes be similar (invitations to lobby meetings, sending briefings or amendments, or even e-campaigns from citizens), the tobacco industry dramatically outnumbers and out-guns those lobbying on tobacco regulation from a public health perspective. Compared to the 100 or so declared full-time tobacco industry lobbyists, there are only a handful of professional lobbyists active from the public health perspective.

Paul Murphy MEP, from the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL), testified to this massive disparity between the level of tobacco lobbying and NGO campaigning around the Tobacco Products Directive:

“My understanding is that Smoke Free Partnership have two people working for them whereas the tobacco industry have 100 full time people... It's a massive disparity because tobacco have a lot of money - and its worth a lot of money to them - whereas NGOs might get some government funding... It's completely mismatched... And that makes it not a fair representative of opinion in society... People with money have a bigger voice.”

The Smoke Free Partnership is a Brussels-based NGO comprised of the European Respiratory Society, Cancer Research UK, the European Heart Network and Action on Smoking and Health UK. Florence Berteletti Kemp, the director of the group, re-emphasised the message that NGOs' lobbying is far outmatched by tobacco:

“Because this legislation would have an impact on their business, there are hundreds of tobacco industry lobbyists. It’s an army. ”

Not all MEPs' offices claimed to have experienced this vast disparity between industry and public health lobbying on tobacco. Indeed, two assistants for Socialist and Democrat (S&D) MEPs said they had received higher volumes of emails from NGOs and hadn’t noticed much material from the tobacco industry. This takes us to the heart of the tobacco industry's lobbying tactics. Knowing who to target.

Know your enemy: the lobbyist's art of political targeting

Part of the tobacco industry's lobbying strategy – as with any savvy industry or cause - is knowing who to target. A sensible tobacco lobbyist won't waste their time and reputation on lobbying those individual MEPs or parties that have a well-known interest in transparency (particularly those who know about WHO FCTC rules), or who are known to be public health champions or hostile to the tobacco industry (such as with most Greens, GUE/NGL and many S&D MEPs). Instead, they will target their lobbying towards MEPs who are known to be pro-industry or have a record of opposing trade barriers or limitations on intellectual property (of which you'll find a higher number in the EPP, ALDE, ECR, etc groupings). This message was confirmed by many of the MEPs' offices who've made it publicly clear that they will not be meeting with tobacco lobbyists, but are nonetheless surrounded by, and aware of, tobacco lobbying being directed at many of their colleagues.

For example, the assistant of an S&D MEP on the ENVI committee stated that:

"They [tobacco lobbyists] target opinion giving committees... They [the opinion giving committees] are a softer touch because everyone on the ENVI committee has been discussing this for months... All know the WHO guidelines... whereas the other committees aren’t dealing with it closely... It's easier to put it to MEPs who aren’t clued up..."

As we noted in our introduction, although the lead committee – the ENVI committee – will vote on the tobacco directive this week, two of 'opinion giving' committees, the legal affairs and trade committees, have in recent weeks voted to weaken the directive, in line with many of the tobacco industry's wishes. Wishes that have no doubt been expressed quite explicitly to these committee's members.

Similarly, another S&D MEP assistant remarked that:

"There is no point lobbying us because we’re very vocal about being anti-tobacco... They have lobbied our Romanian colleagues.. gave them copies of amendments... They hold events and give out free cigarettes, we know this from our Tory colleagues... they did one just before a committee... but we never get invited... "

An MEP from the GUE/NGL group noted that they “Don’t get lobbied because the GUE group are considered a waste of time," whereas the Green group's trade committee advisor remarked about an e-cigarette industry stunt, which involved putting sample e-cigarettes in the post boxes of MEPs, that “I didn’t get one through my pigeonhole... They focus on more promising people"

Burning questions: Are tobacco lobbyists applying undue pressure?

The testimony of these MEPs describing the targeting of tobacco lobbyists also gives a window into some of their activities – distributing freebies, offering amendments to table, inviting MEPs and staff to events. We have also repeatedly heard MEPs and Parliamentary staff describing tobacco lobbyists’ behaviour as “aggressive.” Aggressive lobbying – or more specifically, the use of dishonesty, undue pressure or inappropriate behaviour – is banned by the code of conduct for lobbyists.6 This code is agreed to by all lobbies that sign up to the Commission and Parliament's Joint Transparency Register. This voluntary register is currently under review,7 and one element that is under the spotlight for rectification is the code of conduct's vague wording and lack of implementation.8 Some tobacco industry lobbies have signed up to the register and are therefore covered by this code. If the register is made mandatory – as the European Parliament has long demanded – all lobby actors would be covered by this code of conduct.

One such example of undue pressure, if not outright dishonesty, was given to CEO by an MEP assistant who described their experience with one tobacco lobbyist: “He played the usual game of being all nice. But then half an hour before a vote was due, he sent an amendment to be submitted”. The lobbyist claimed he’d already agreed the amendment with another member of staff from the same office. But this later proved to be untrue, and was revealed to be a deception used by a lobbyist determined to get what he wanted, by hook or by crook.

Other examples of dubious lobbying techniques include using other groups – sometimes front groups – to push their agenda, without making it clear whose interests (the tobacco companies) are actually being represented. The not uncommon tabling of industry amendments has also been described as widespread, although here the onus is on MEPs to critically consider any amendments or suggestions they take from outside interests, be they from industry, civil society or other interests. The e-cigarette campaign has gone further, by distributing free products, orchestrating an aggressive social media offensive and even accusing MEPs reluctant to accept their viewpoint of 'questionable motives'.

The backdoor approach: using other groups to indirectly lobby MEPs

“Philip Morris representatives won’t lobby you,” one MEP assistant told CEO. “Instead it will be farmers’ groups, legal firms and groups discussing intellectual property rights”.

A number of assistants in the European Parliament told CEO that they had been contacted by local retailers, anti-fraud and anti-counterfeiting companies and trade unions. But these contacts had an eery similarity and political and legislative sophistication that marked them out as - very likely - originating from a particularly clever type of industry offensive.

One said the tobacco lobby was using a “backdoor approach”, lobbying them through organisations which seemingly had very little to do with tobacco interests, and thereby increasing the apparent credibility of the message and so the chances that MEPs will listen to them.

According to another MEP assistant, a small firm had contacted their office to say they were concerned about losing jobs. But, according to the assistant, when the company sent through suggested amendments for the Directive, their proposals covered a diverse range of tobacco interests, not just employment. Once again, the hand of big tobacco appeared to loom in the background.

Other MEPs’ assistants testified that a number of emails from constituents looked suspiciously similar and assumed they were part of a co-ordinated campaign instigated by the tobacco industry. This is not of course a tactic unique to tobacco; all kinds of interest groups – including public-interest environmental, development and human rights groups – use citizen email campaigns to try to influence policy-makers. CEO does not however find it cynical to see a difference between a company using citizens (who may themselves be harmed by that company's business) to promote its commercial interests and public-interest civil society groups garnering public pressure to convince policy-makers to act in the interests of the public.

Evidence of copy-pasted tobacco industry amendments

Opinion is divided over the normality and acceptability of interest groups suggesting amendments to MEPs, but what is clear is that only a critical approach by our law-makers over what they include in their own amendments to legislation is defensible.

Both the tobacco lobby and public health NGOs have been noted by MEPs as 'delivering suggestions' for amendments, and it is commonly accepted by many in Brussels that all stakeholders do this. But when a legislative proposal can be seen to have word-for-word sections that almost perfectly mimic the proposals for amendments of particular business or industry interests, especially those that are at odds with the public interest in strong health policy, there is very clearly a problem.

Some MEPs believe it is the sheer quantity of suggestions, particularly from the tobacco industry, that have amounted to a problem, though others disagree. One MEP assistant declared that, when attending a meeting of the trade committee on the tobacco directive, “it was very evident that the major groups were all singing from the same hymn sheet... There were multiple amendments that were the same.. .”

Paul Murphy MEP from GUE/NGL said: “It is a massive problem. Industry are trying to write legislation for themselves”.

In one particular example, MEPs have reported receiving an email from SWM, a producer of cigarette papers, asking them to support the deletion of paragraphs in Article 2 and 6 of the Tobacco Products Directive, and suggesting the addition of text to the amendments.

CEO has also seen three unmarked documents regarding the Directive, which according to MEP assistants, were handed to MEPs personally rather than emailed to them. Whilst none of the documents carry the name of an author or publisher, and so it is not possible to verify, several Parliamentary sources have testified to CEO that they are tobacco industry lobby documents. The amendments do, in any case, clearly represent the interests of the tobacco industry, such as a proposal to reduce the area of the package covered by health warnings from 75% to 50%.

CEO has analysed hundreds of the amendments to the Directive that have been tabled and compared them with the three lobby documents. Two MEPs in particular have tabled amendments that are remarkably similar to the alleged tobacco lobby amendments. Holger Krahmer from the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) tabled 36 amendments with a striking similarity to the amendments and to the justifications contained in documents seen by CEO. (See Annex 4)

Mr Krahmer has previously warned against “waging a crusade” against tobacco consumers. When former health Commissioner John Dalli was forced to resign last autumn, Mr Krahmer said he was pleased this meant the Tobacco Products Directive would probably be delayed: “It is good that we now have more time to reflect on the meaning of further sales restrictions on tobacco products”.

9Christa Klass MEP from the EPP also tabled 12 amendments that almost completely resemble the amendments and justifications contained in the documents seen by CEO. (See Annex 5). Ms Klass said in an interview with CEO that she wrote the amendments herself, that she does not know why hers are the same as the apparent tobacco lobby amendments, but that “It could be the tobacco industry think the same way.” She furthermore stated that she had not seen any tobacco industry amendments, but that she does meet with tobacco lobbyists, as well as all stakeholders, including NGOs.10

CEO has asked Mr Krahmer for an interview about the similarities between his amendments and the proposed amendments contained in the seen documents. At the time of publishing, we have received no response.11

Electronic cigarettes: the next big thing?

It has already been reported in the media, in particular a recent exposé in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ),12 that the battle around the classification and restrictions on e-cigarettes in the Tobacco Product Directive has been intense. MEPs and their assistants have told CEO that they are most often contacted by the electronic cigarette lobby regarding this Directive.

Electronic cigarettes - also called ‘personal vaporisers’ - are battery-powered inhalers that vaporise a nicotine liquid solution. Electronic cigarette companies claim they are a safe alternative to cigarettes, but the World Health Organisation has warned that too little is known about the health risks of long term use. Moreover, the WSJ documented that e-cigarette makers are emulating tactics once used by tobacco companies, such as sponsoring medical studies and testimonials from doctors, and running television spots advertising the use of e-cigarettes indoors or in the presence of children. WSJ quoted a professor at the Research Center for Prevention and Health in Copenhagen as explaining that the e-cigarette industry “is really undermining all the progress we have made in de-normalizing smoking."

Under proposals in the Tobacco Products Directive, e-cigarettes would be classed as a medicine, subjected to intense testing and might only be available in pharmacies in some countries. The Directive also proposes they be reduced in strength. The Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association and the European Smokeless Tobacco Council are lobbying hard against these proposals. Individual electronic cigarette firms have also been directing intense fire at the Parliament, now it that the Directive is in MEPs' hands.

UK electronic cigarette manufacturer Skycig have urged users, their friends and family, to contact their MEPs, claiming that millions of people would turn back to cigarettes “effectively allowing 5 million people to die from smoking related illnesses”.13

Paul Murphy MEP explained that in the Parliament, MEPs “are subjected to a lot of astroturf campaigning in the sense that it is manufactured. We get emails from so-called ordinary constituents about electronic cigarettes. But they are really detailed about the Directive.”

‘Astroturf’ is the name given to seemingly grass roots campaigns, that have actually been established, encouraged and sometimes funded by companies and corporate lobby groups interested in their success. One MEP assistant told CEO: “They have organised online, created electronic cigarette forums. They’re quite an aggressive lobby”. Another said: “We get a lot of abuse on Twitter about calling for more legislation on electronic cigarettes.”

Totally Wicked, another UK electronic cigarette firm, sent every MEP an e-cigarette. One MEP commented incredulously that “They are sending addictive drugs to MEPs. It is quite incredible”. Jutta Haug MEP from the S&D said she had been “strongly lobbied by electronic cigarette users”. The rapporteur on the Tobacco Products Directive, Linda McAvan MEP, has also said that “There is a very aggressive attitude.”

Indeed, Ms McAvan was the center of a controversy around e-cigarette company Totally Wicked after their managing director stepped down at the end of June, after admitting sending “inappropriate” emails to Ms McAvan. In the emails, the former managing director called in to question her legitimacy and motivations.14

Background: The Dalligate tobacco lobby scandal

The current health Commissioner Tonio Borg’s predecessor, John Dalli, was forced to resign in October 2012 in the wake of a cash-for-access tobacco lobby scandal that followed an OLAF (EU anti-fraud agency) investigation. This investigation was prompted by a complaint by tobacco company Swedish Match. The firm alleged that an associate of Mr Dalli had offered to set up meetings with the Commissioner, with a view to changing tobacco legislation in the company's favour, in return for €60 million. The story started however with Swedish Match seeking access to the Commissioner through his personal contacts on Malta, in order to further their political agenda. CEO deems this to fall under the category of “inappropriate behaviour” that is banned by the code of conduct for lobbyists, which Swedish Match signed up to when they joined the EU Transparency Register.15

Mr Dalli has consistently denied allegations of his knowledge of Mr Zammit's dealings, and has taken both the European Commission and Swedish Match to court. The OLAF investigation – despite the claims of OLAF's director, Giovanni Kessler, that there was “unambigous circumstantial evidence” that Dalli knew of these dealings – has been shown, following a leak of the investigation report, to contain no conclusive evidence of Mr Dalli’s involvement. The responsible authorities – the Maltese judiciary – in June confirmed that there were no grounds to begin legal proceedings against Dalli. Corporate Europe Observatory has also submitted formal complaints regarding the failure of the Commission to disclose documents about the affair, which the European Ombudsman is now investigating.16

The relevance of this scandal, now nearly a year old, is not only that considerable mystery continues to surround the Dalligate affair, as well as the fact that new and curious details continue to emerge.17 Dalligate also remains important because it delayed the Tobacco Products Directive whilst the new health Commissioner, Tonio Borg, was appointed. The delay won the approval of the tobacco industry and the dismay of public health NGOs. Following Commissioner Borg's appointment at the end of November 2012, the European Commission adopted the new proposal for the Tobacco Products Directive in December. Speculation has continued about whether the affair was a tobacco industry set-up, designed to delay a directive unfavourable to their interests. Indeed, it is not clear if the delay could be the difference between the Directive getting through the legislative process before the next European Parliament election or not. If it does not go through on the first reading, the whole dossier will have to be started from scratch in the next legislative period, starting 2014.

The Dalligate scandal is also extremely important because of the facts that have been uncovered in the scandal's slip-stream. From undeclared high-level meetings with the tobacco lobby in the Commission, which breach the WHO FCTC, to the role of former head of the Commission's Legal Service, Michel Petite. Mr Petite now works as a lawyer-lobbyists for Phillip Morris, has met with his former colleagues on the Tobacco Products Directive, and yet still advises the Commission President on ethical issues and revolving-door type conflicts of interest.18 The wake of the scandal has also uncovered the internal dynamic in the Commission between DG SANCO – responsible for the Directive – and the Secretariat General and Ms Catherine Day, who has twice tried to delay the new tobacco law, and even to water it down.

Varying degrees of transparency over MEPs’ contacts with tobacco lobbyists

We have already mentioned the UN FCTC and its rules governing contacts between public health policy-makers and the tobacco industry. These must be limited to those strictly necessary in order to regulate the industry and be conducted completely transparent, including ‘disclosure of records of such interactions to the public.’19 CEO has previously documented the lack of transparency between the European Commission and tobacco lobbyists.20 Whilst the Commission’s directorate for health and consumers (DG SANCO) lists meetings with tobacco lobbyists and publishes minutes (although omissions have been found), other directorates have been having meetings without any disclosure. But do MEPs fair any better?

Earlier this year, the Greens wrote to European Parliament president Martin Schulz arguing that a common approach was needed to implement the Parliament's obligations under the UN FCTC, in the form of joint transparency rules for contacts with tobacco lobbyists. This letter was discussed at a meeting of the chairs of the Parliament's committees, led by MEP Klaus-Heiner Lehne, where it was argued that the UN FCTC rules are not binding and that a common approach for all MEPs was therefore not needed. This is a problematic analysis, as the FCTC is itself a piece of binding international law. The guidelines that accompany it, and elaborate on how to implement the principles enshrined in the law, should – CEO believes - be considered to have a de facto binding character as well.

The European Parliament’s rapporteur on the Tobacco Products Directive, Linda McAvan MEP, has nonetheless publicly listed the meetings she has had with the tobacco and electronic cigarette industry, as well as NGOs and government agencies. She has included these as a legislative footprint to her draft report on the TPD for the ENVI committee, listing all the organisations she met with, received, or heard from representatives, as rapporteur.21 The footprint shows she had ten contacts with EU and National Regulatory Agencies, 7 with NGOs and 3 with industry. Participant lists and records of the two open meetings with industry (tobacco industry and suppliers,22 and the e-cigarette industry23) are also made available. The practice of having only public hearings with the tobacco industry is a very good one. Ms McAvan's approach not only meets the requirements of the FCTC but sets a good benchmark for the practice of a legislative footprint, and it is one that CEO would like to see followed by Commission and Parliament alike.

The political grouping in Parliament most serious about implementation of the WHO rules is the Greens, who have an online 'Registry of contacts between Greens/EFA and the tobacco industry'.24 This lists all contacts between Members and/or staff of the Greens/EFA group and the tobacco industry, and includes details of 17 meetings during the last three months.

The Greens are the only political group that has a coherent policy across all its MEPs, but there are also MEPs in other groups who are actively implementing the WHO rules. Rebecca Taylor, an ALDE MEP, states on her website that:

"The World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control requires policy makers to be as transparent as possible when meeting with representatives of the tobacco industry and other affiliated companies, and so details of all such meetings will be published below. In the interests of balance, I am also including details of meetings with all stakeholders on the tobacco directive."

Ms Taylor lists around 20 meetings over the last few months, March to June 2013, the vast majority of which appear to be with the tobacco or e-cigarette industry.25

The GUE/NGL has been very outspoken about being pro-transparency. For example, MEP Martina Anderson has stated that she “urges fellow MEPs to adhere to WHO conduct guidelines"26, but it is not clear whether the GUE group have actually had any tobacco industry meetings to declare.

Contrastingly, Christa Klass, the EPP MEP who tabled 12 amendments almost exactly the same as alleged tobacco industry amendments, stated in an interview with CEO that she does not publish or declare her meetings with the tobacco industry: “No, why should I?”. When informed of the FCTC requirement to do so, she replied “I have no time for this. I would need another secretary to do all this."

In an attempt to find out more about other meetings between MEPs and tobacco lobbyists, CEO wrote to 102 members (and their substitutes) on the ENVI committee to ask if they had met with tobacco lobbyists in the previous six months. We had very few responses from which to elaborate, with only six MEPs answering our questions. (See Annex 3)

It is perhaps worth noting however the variety of these responses. Karl-Heinz Florenz MEP listed seven meetings with representatives from e-cigarette firms and the tobacco industry since February 2013 (Annex 3). Jutta Haug MEP reported meetings with representatives from one tobacco company and one manufacturer. Anna Rosbach MEP said she had met with some tobacco lobbyists but had declined others because she was concerned that hey were not on the Transparency Register. Sandrine Belier MEP was invited to a meeting but declined. Tobacco company Swedish Match asked to see Rebecca Harms MEP but she refused. Nessa Childers MEP said she had not been invited to any meetings.

Conclusions

The tobacco lobby – and e-cigarette industry – has been intensifying its lobbying offensive towards the European Parliament. Their tactics and strategies have included frequent calls, emails and invitations for drinks and meals; the distribution to MEPs of product samples; turning up to MEP offices without prior arrangements; putting pressure on MEPs to table amendments that are in their interests; orchestrating email and social media campaigns; and, indirect lobbying through small retailers, anti-counterfeiting firms and farmers’ groups. All of this should be seen in the context of the UN FCTC – which prohibits contacts between public health policy-makers and the tobacco industry unless strictly necessary to regulate it, and then only under complete public transparency.

The bulk of our research, including contacts with MEPs, has indicated that:

  • Many MEPs, their assistants and advisers have described an intense or even 'aggressive' lobby from tobacco industry representatives, particularly in regards to high numbers of telephone calls, emails and requests for meetings. Others seem to be less targeted, and note public health NGOs, although far fewer in number and resources, also have a prominent lobby presence.
  • It is apparent that the tobacco lobby knows who to target to achieve the best results (for its interests), in particular targeting MEPs that they see as more receptive to their arguments as well as those on opinion giving – rather than the lead committee on the Tobacco Products Directive – committees.
  • The electronic cigarette industry has in recent months represented a particularly vociferous lobby, notably using social media campaigns, ‘astro turfing’ tactics as well as the distribution of free samples.
  • Only some political groupings, as well as certain individual MEPs – notably including the rapporteur on the Directive - are publicly disclosing meetings and contacts with tobacco industry representatives. There is not yet a consistent implementation of the UN FCTC rules on contacts with tobacco lobbyists by the European Parliament. There have even – very worryingly – been signals from the Parliament that suggest they do not consider the FCTC to be legally binding on them and consequently see no need for a consistent approach to transparency around tobacco contacts.
  • There is evidence that industry-sourced amendments have made their way more or less word-for-word into the amendments proposed by some MEPs. Two MEPs in particular appear to have largely copy-pasted from the documents showing amendments in the industry's favour – and contrary to the strengthening of public health policy.

With a key European Parliament ENVI committee vote on new tobacco legislation taking place later this week, this report is a curtain-raiser on the scale and intensity of tobacco industry lobbying that has been going on in the Parliament in recent months. The tobacco industry has a long record of manipulation and disinformation, which has - uniquely - resulted in international law intended to minimise interactions between the tobacco industry and public-health policy makers. The lobby battle around the EU's new Tobacco Products Directive however shows considerable activity from traditional tobacco lobbyists as well as e-cigarette companies, resulting in numerous contacts between policy-makers and the tobacco industry, many of which are subject to little or no transparency. The concerns expressed by many MEPs about the apparent tobacco industry amendments tabled via their Parliamentary colleagues, indicates that the tobacco lobby is having significant success where it should not even be having significant access.

For the Annexes, please see attached PDF, or click here.

Photo by Rares M. Dutu,CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, via Flickr

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For a PDF version of this article, with the Annexes, please click here.On 10 and 11 July, the European Parliament’s environment, health and food safety committee (ENVI) votes on the 1,360 amendments that MEPs have tabled to the Commission's proposal for a new Tobacco Products Directive. The European Commission's proposal includes graphic photos and text warnings to cover 75% of the front and back of cigarette packs, restrictions on the sale of slim cigarettes, menthol and flavoured cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, and the regulation of Internet sales. New EU health Commissioner Tonio Borg says the ambition of the new Tobacco Products Directive is to make “tobacco products and smoking less attractive and thus discourage tobacco initiation among young people”.1 Commissioner Borg has publicly stated that legislation should be in force by 2016 at the latest, and that means getting it adopted before the current European Parliament’s term expires in summer 2014.With the Tobacco Products Directive now in the hands of the European Parliament and European Council, this report offers a curtain-raiser on the intensity of tobacco lobbying towards MEPs whose support could help change the game. This report documents the experiences of some MEPs, their assistants, and political advisers, who have testified that the tobacco and electronic cigarette lobby are becoming more aggressive as the voting approaches. It comes just weeks after the European Parliament's committee on legal affairs and committee on trade, voted to weaken the tobacco law on key points that are remarkably in line with tobacco industry wishes. This gives the clearest sign yet that the strategically targeted tobacco industry lobbying of the Parliament is having effect. As MEPs in the ENVI committee, the lead committee on the tobacco law, prepare to vote this week, CEO wafts a breeze through the smoky conduct of one of the dirtiest industries in lobbying history.Tobacco lobby targets European ParliamentA previous investigation by CEO found around 97 full time tobacco lobbyists working in Brussels, with an annual lobbying budget of around €5.3 million.2 These estimates were based on entries in the EU's voluntary lobby register - which is, by its nature, incomplete and partly inaccurate3 – and so are almost certainly underestimates. For this new report, we called and emailed dozens of MEPs, their assistants, political advisers and campaign groups during June 2013, in order to get a picture of the scale of tobacco lobbying in the run up to the European Parliament vote. (See Annex 1)Karl-Heinz Florenz MEP from the European People’s Party (EPP) described how he had received numerous emails, letters, position papers and phone calls on the Tobacco Products Directive. He sent CEO a list of all the tobacco and electronic cigarette industry organisations who had contacted him in the last six months. This list shows that nearly 40 different tobacco industry actors, from individual companies and industry federations to lobby consultancies representing tobacco companies have contacted him in the last half year. (See Annex 2)Various MEPs and assistants from different parties have confirmed a picture of heavy lobbying, particularly since last Autumn, with emails coming in multiple times a week and meeting requests cited from various tobacco companies and public affairs consultants representing them, from several different countries. One political advisor, on the topic of the tobacco lobby, said: “On a scale of 1 to 10, they’re 11... They’re lobbying us to death ”.Lots of tobacco lobby contacts... when UN law says there shouldn't beThe United Nation's World Health Organisation (WHO)'s 2005 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is premised on the basic fact that there is an irreconcilable difference between the interests of the tobacco industry (producing and selling as much of a substance as possible, in order to maximise profit) and that of public health regulators (reducing the consumption of that same substance as much as possible, in order to minimise cancers and other negative health impacts). This piece of international law (to which the EU, and all member states, is a signatory) not only requires transparency around all contacts between public health policy-makers and the tobacco industry but requires that they are avoided and limited only to contacts that are strictly necessary to regulate the industry.4 Or put another way, as the Smoke Free Partnership's Florence Bertelletti Kemp does, "If you want to resolve malaria, you’re not going to include the mosquito."Thus, MEPs, as with all policy-makers involved in legislating on public health, should– as a matter of law - be having as few contacts with the tobacco industry as is strictly necessary to regulate them, and all interactions that do take place should be fully transparent. This is an industry unique in having international law that governs contacts between that industry and the people charged with regulating it, and this is because close ties between them have been shown to be so harmful in the past. Aggressive and deceptive lobbying and willful disinformation by the tobacco industry has been globally documented for over half a century.Public health lobby: outnumbered, out-gunned?The tobacco industry are not the only ones lobbying around the Tobacco Products Directive. Public health and anti-smoking groups are also active lobbying the Parliament in the run up to the vote on legislation which has the potential to impact the nearly 700 000 tobacco related deaths in the EU each year.5 But another distinction – beyond the rules in the FCTC - that should be made is that even though tactics may sometimes be similar (invitations to lobby meetings, sending briefings or amendments, or even e-campaigns from citizens), the tobacco industry dramatically outnumbers and out-guns those lobbying on tobacco regulation from a public health perspective. Compared to the 100 or so declared full-time tobacco industry lobbyists, there are only a handful of professional lobbyists active from the public health perspective.Paul Murphy MEP, from the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL), testified to this massive disparity between the level of tobacco lobbying and NGO campaigning around the Tobacco Products Directive:“My understanding is that Smoke Free Partnership have two people working for them whereas the tobacco industry have 100 full time people... It's a massive disparity because tobacco have a lot of money - and its worth a lot of money to them - whereas NGOs might get some government funding... It's completely mismatched... And that makes it not a fair representative of opinion in society... People with money have a bigger voice.”The Smoke Free Partnership is a Brussels-based NGO comprised of the European Respiratory Society, Cancer Research UK, the European Heart Network and Action on Smoking and Health UK. Florence Berteletti Kemp, the director of the group, re-emphasised the message that NGOs' lobbying is far outmatched by tobacco:“Because this legislation would have an impact on their business, there are hundreds of tobacco industry lobbyists. It’s an army. ”Not all MEPs' offices claimed to have experienced this vast disparity between industry and public health lobbying on tobacco. Indeed, two assistants for Socialist and Democrat (S&D) MEPs said they had received higher volumes of emails from NGOs and hadn’t noticed much material from the tobacco industry. This takes us to the heart of the tobacco industry's lobbying tactics. Knowing who to target.Know your enemy: the lobbyist's art of political targetingPart of the tobacco industry's lobbying strategy – as with any savvy industry or cause - is knowing who to target. A sensible tobacco lobbyist won't waste their time and reputation on lobbying those individual MEPs or parties that have a well-known interest in transparency (particularly those who know about WHO FCTC rules), or who are known to be public health champions or hostile to the tobacco industry (such as with most Greens, GUE/NGL and many S&D MEPs). Instead, they will target their lobbying towards MEPs who are known to be pro-industry or have a record of opposing trade barriers or limitations on intellectual property (of which you'll find a higher number in the EPP, ALDE, ECR, etc groupings). This message was confirmed by many of the MEPs' offices who've made it publicly clear that they will not be meeting with tobacco lobbyists, but are nonetheless surrounded by, and aware of, tobacco lobbying being directed at many of their colleagues.For example, the assistant of an S&D MEP on the ENVI committee stated that:"They [tobacco lobbyists] target opinion giving committees... They [the opinion giving committees] are a softer touch because everyone on the ENVI committee has been discussing this for months... All know the WHO guidelines... whereas the other committees aren’t dealing with it closely... It's easier to put it to MEPs who aren’t clued up..."As we noted in our introduction, although the lead committee – the ENVI committee – will vote on the tobacco directive this week, two of 'opinion giving' committees, the legal affairs and trade committees, have in recent weeks voted to weaken the directive, in line with many of the tobacco industry's wishes. Wishes that have no doubt been expressed quite explicitly to these committee's members.Similarly, another S&D MEP assistant remarked that:"There is no point lobbying us because we’re very vocal about being anti-tobacco... They have lobbied our Romanian colleagues.. gave them copies of amendments... They hold events and give out free cigarettes, we know this from our Tory colleagues... they did one just before a committee... but we never get invited... "An MEP from the GUE/NGL group noted that they “Don’t get lobbied because the GUE group are considered a waste of time," whereas the Green group's trade committee advisor remarked about an e-cigarette industry stunt, which involved putting sample e-cigarettes in the post boxes of MEPs, that “I didn’t get one through my pigeonhole... They focus on more promising people"Burning questions: Are tobacco lobbyists applying undue pressure?The testimony of these MEPs describing the targeting of tobacco lobbyists also gives a window into some of their activities – distributing freebies, offering amendments to table, inviting MEPs and staff to events. We have also repeatedly heard MEPs and Parliamentary staff describing tobacco lobbyists’ behaviour as “aggressive.” Aggressive lobbying – or more specifically, the use of dishonesty, undue pressure or inappropriate behaviour – is banned by the code of conduct for lobbyists.6 This code is agreed to by all lobbies that sign up to the Commission and Parliament's Joint Transparency Register. This voluntary register is currently under review,7 and one element that is under the spotlight for rectification is the code of conduct's vague wording and lack of implementation.8 Some tobacco industry lobbies have signed up to the register and are therefore covered by this code. If the register is made mandatory – as the European Parliament has long demanded – all lobby actors would be covered by this code of conduct.One such example of undue pressure, if not outright dishonesty, was given to CEO by an MEP assistant who described their experience with one tobacco lobbyist: “He played the usual game of being all nice. But then half an hour before a vote was due, he sent an amendment to be submitted”. The lobbyist claimed he’d already agreed the amendment with another member of staff from the same office. But this later proved to be untrue, and was revealed to be a deception used by a lobbyist determined to get what he wanted, by hook or by crook.Other examples of dubious lobbying techniques include using other groups – sometimes front groups – to push their agenda, without making it clear whose interests (the tobacco companies) are actually being represented. The not uncommon tabling of industry amendments has also been described as widespread, although here the onus is on MEPs to critically consider any amendments or suggestions they take from outside interests, be they from industry, civil society or other interests. The e-cigarette campaign has gone further, by distributing free products, orchestrating an aggressive social media offensive and even accusing MEPs reluctant to accept their viewpoint of 'questionable motives'.The backdoor approach: using other groups to indirectly lobby MEPs“Philip Morris representatives won’t lobby you,” one MEP assistant told CEO. “Instead it will be farmers’ groups, legal firms and groups discussing intellectual property rights”.A number of assistants in the European Parliament told CEO that they had been contacted by local retailers, anti-fraud and anti-counterfeiting companies and trade unions. But these contacts had an eery similarity and political and legislative sophistication that marked them out as - very likely - originating from a particularly clever type of industry offensive.One said the tobacco lobby was using a “backdoor approach”, lobbying them through organisations which seemingly had very little to do with tobacco interests, and thereby increasing the apparent credibility of the message and so the chances that MEPs will listen to them.According to another MEP assistant, a small firm had contacted their office to say they were concerned about losing jobs. But, according to the assistant, when the company sent through suggested amendments for the Directive, their proposals covered a diverse range of tobacco interests, not just employment. Once again, the hand of big tobacco appeared to loom in the background.Other MEPs’ assistants testified that a number of emails from constituents looked suspiciously similar and assumed they were part of a co-ordinated campaign instigated by the tobacco industry. This is not of course a tactic unique to tobacco; all kinds of interest groups – including public-interest environmental, development and human rights groups – use citizen email campaigns to try to influence policy-makers. CEO does not however find it cynical to see a difference between a company using citizens (who may themselves be harmed by that company's business) to promote its commercial interests and public-interest civil society groups garnering public pressure to convince policy-makers to act in the interests of the public.Evidence of copy-pasted tobacco industry amendmentsOpinion is divided over the normality and acceptability of interest groups suggesting amendments to MEPs, but what is clear is that only a critical approach by our law-makers over what they include in their own amendments to legislation is defensible.Both the tobacco lobby and public health NGOs have been noted by MEPs as 'delivering suggestions' for amendments, and it is commonly accepted by many in Brussels that all stakeholders do this. But when a legislative proposal can be seen to have word-for-word sections that almost perfectly mimic the proposals for amendments of particular business or industry interests, especially those that are at odds with the public interest in strong health policy, there is very clearly a problem.Some MEPs believe it is the sheer quantity of suggestions, particularly from the tobacco industry, that have amounted to a problem, though others disagree. One MEP assistant declared that, when attending a meeting of the trade committee on the tobacco directive, “it was very evident that the major groups were all singing from the same hymn sheet... There were multiple amendments that were the same.. .”Paul Murphy MEP from GUE/NGL said: “It is a massive problem. Industry are trying to write legislation for themselves”.In one particular example, MEPs have reported receiving an email from SWM, a producer of cigarette papers, asking them to support the deletion of paragraphs in Article 2 and 6 of the Tobacco Products Directive, and suggesting the addition of text to the amendments.CEO has also seen three unmarked documents regarding the Directive, which according to MEP assistants, were handed to MEPs personally rather than emailed to them. Whilst none of the documents carry the name of an author or publisher, and so it is not possible to verify, several Parliamentary sources have testified to CEO that they are tobacco industry lobby documents. The amendments do, in any case, clearly represent the interests of the tobacco industry, such as a proposal to reduce the area of the package covered by health warnings from 75% to 50%.CEO has analysed hundreds of the amendments to the Directive that have been tabled and compared them with the three lobby documents. Two MEPs in particular have tabled amendments that are remarkably similar to the alleged tobacco lobby amendments. Holger Krahmer from the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) tabled 36 amendments with a striking similarity to the amendments and to the justifications contained in documents seen by CEO. (See Annex 4)Mr Krahmer has previously warned against “waging a crusade” against tobacco consumers. When former health Commissioner John Dalli was forced to resign last autumn, Mr Krahmer said he was pleased this meant the Tobacco Products Directive would probably be delayed: “It is good that we now have more time to reflect on the meaning of further sales restrictions on tobacco products”.9Christa Klass MEP from the EPP also tabled 12 amendments that almost completely resemble the amendments and justifications contained in the documents seen by CEO. (See Annex 5). Ms Klass said in an interview with CEO that she wrote the amendments herself, that she does not know why hers are the same as the apparent tobacco lobby amendments, but that “It could be the tobacco industry think the same way.” She furthermore stated that she had not seen any tobacco industry amendments, but that she does meet with tobacco lobbyists, as well as all stakeholders, including NGOs.10CEO has asked Mr Krahmer for an interview about the similarities between his amendments and the proposed amendments contained in the seen documents. At the time of publishing, we have received no response.11Electronic cigarettes: the next big thing?It has already been reported in the media, in particular a recent exposé in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ),12 that the battle around the classification and restrictions on e-cigarettes in the Tobacco Product Directive has been intense. MEPs and their assistants have told CEO that they are most often contacted by the electronic cigarette lobby regarding this Directive.Electronic cigarettes - also called ‘personal vaporisers’ - are battery-powered inhalers that vaporise a nicotine liquid solution. Electronic cigarette companies claim they are a safe alternative to cigarettes, but the World Health Organisation has warned that too little is known about the health risks of long term use. Moreover, the WSJ documented that e-cigarette makers are emulating tactics once used by tobacco companies, such as sponsoring medical studies and testimonials from doctors, and running television spots advertising the use of e-cigarettes indoors or in the presence of children. WSJ quoted a professor at the Research Center for Prevention and Health in Copenhagen as explaining that the e-cigarette industry “is really undermining all the progress we have made in de-normalizing smoking."Under proposals in the Tobacco Products Directive, e-cigarettes would be classed as a medicine, subjected to intense testing and might only be available in pharmacies in some countries. The Directive also proposes they be reduced in strength. The Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association and the European Smokeless Tobacco Council are lobbying hard against these proposals. Individual electronic cigarette firms have also been directing intense fire at the Parliament, now it that the Directive is in MEPs' hands.UK electronic cigarette manufacturer Skycig have urged users, their friends and family, to contact their MEPs, claiming that millions of people would turn back to cigarettes “effectively allowing 5 million people to die from smoking related illnesses”.13 Paul Murphy MEP explained that in the Parliament, MEPs “are subjected to a lot of astroturf campaigning in the sense that it is manufactured. We get emails from so-called ordinary constituents about electronic cigarettes. But they are really detailed about the Directive.”‘Astroturf’ is the name given to seemingly grass roots campaigns, that have actually been established, encouraged and sometimes funded by companies and corporate lobby groups interested in their success. One MEP assistant told CEO: “They have organised online, created electronic cigarette forums. They’re quite an aggressive lobby”. Another said: “We get a lot of abuse on Twitter about calling for more legislation on electronic cigarettes.”Totally Wicked, another UK electronic cigarette firm, sent every MEP an e-cigarette. One MEP commented incredulously that “They are sending addictive drugs to MEPs. It is quite incredible”. Jutta Haug MEP from the S&D said she had been “strongly lobbied by electronic cigarette users”. The rapporteur on the Tobacco Products Directive, Linda McAvan MEP, has also said that “There is a very aggressive attitude.”Indeed, Ms McAvan was the center of a controversy around e-cigarette company Totally Wicked after their managing director stepped down at the end of June, after admitting sending “inappropriate” emails to Ms McAvan. In the emails, the former managing director called in to question her legitimacy and motivations.14 Background: The Dalligate tobacco lobby scandalThe current health Commissioner Tonio Borg’s predecessor, John Dalli, was forced to resign in October 2012 in the wake of a cash-for-access tobacco lobby scandal that followed an OLAF (EU anti-fraud agency) investigation. This investigation was prompted by a complaint by tobacco company Swedish Match. The firm alleged that an associate of Mr Dalli had offered to set up meetings with the Commissioner, with a view to changing tobacco legislation in the company's favour, in return for €60 million. The story started however with Swedish Match seeking access to the Commissioner through his personal contacts on Malta, in order to further their political agenda. CEO deems this to fall under the category of “inappropriate behaviour” that is banned by the code of conduct for lobbyists, which Swedish Match signed up to when they joined the EU Transparency Register.15Mr Dalli has consistently denied allegations of his knowledge of Mr Zammit's dealings, and has taken both the European Commission and Swedish Match to court. The OLAF investigation – despite the claims of OLAF's director, Giovanni Kessler, that there was “unambigous circumstantial evidence” that Dalli knew of these dealings – has been shown, following a leak of the investigation report, to contain no conclusive evidence of Mr Dalli’s involvement. The responsible authorities – the Maltese judiciary – in June confirmed that there were no grounds to begin legal proceedings against Dalli. Corporate Europe Observatory has also submitted formal complaints regarding the failure of the Commission to disclose documents about the affair, which the European Ombudsman is now investigating.16The relevance of this scandal, now nearly a year old, is not only that considerable mystery continues to surround the Dalligate affair, as well as the fact that new and curious details continue to emerge.17 Dalligate also remains important because it delayed the Tobacco Products Directive whilst the new health Commissioner, Tonio Borg, was appointed. The delay won the approval of the tobacco industry and the dismay of public health NGOs. Following Commissioner Borg's appointment at the end of November 2012, the European Commission adopted the new proposal for the Tobacco Products Directive in December. Speculation has continued about whether the affair was a tobacco industry set-up, designed to delay a directive unfavourable to their interests. Indeed, it is not clear if the delay could be the difference between the Directive getting through the legislative process before the next European Parliament election or not. If it does not go through on the first reading, the whole dossier will have to be started from scratch in the next legislative period, starting 2014.The Dalligate scandal is also extremely important because of the facts that have been uncovered in the scandal's slip-stream. From undeclared high-level meetings with the tobacco lobby in the Commission, which breach the WHO FCTC, to the role of former head of the Commission's Legal Service, Michel Petite. Mr Petite now works as a lawyer-lobbyists for Phillip Morris, has met with his former colleagues on the Tobacco Products Directive, and yet still advises the Commission President on ethical issues and revolving-door type conflicts of interest.18 The wake of the scandal has also uncovered the internal dynamic in the Commission between DG SANCO – responsible for the Directive – and the Secretariat General and Ms Catherine Day, who has twice tried to delay the new tobacco law, and even to water it down.Varying degrees of transparency over MEPs’ contacts with tobacco lobbyistsWe have already mentioned the UN FCTC and its rules governing contacts between public health policy-makers and the tobacco industry. These must be limited to those strictly necessary in order to regulate the industry and be conducted completely transparent, including ‘disclosure of records of such interactions to the public.’19 CEO has previously documented the lack of transparency between the European Commission and tobacco lobbyists.20 Whilst the Commission’s directorate for health and consumers (DG SANCO) lists meetings with tobacco lobbyists and publishes minutes (although omissions have been found), other directorates have been having meetings without any disclosure. But do MEPs fair any better? Earlier this year, the Greens wrote to European Parliament president Martin Schulz arguing that a common approach was needed to implement the Parliament's obligations under the UN FCTC, in the form of joint transparency rules for contacts with tobacco lobbyists. This letter was discussed at a meeting of the chairs of the Parliament's committees, led by MEP Klaus-Heiner Lehne, where it was argued that the UN FCTC rules are not binding and that a common approach for all MEPs was therefore not needed. This is a problematic analysis, as the FCTC is itself a piece of binding international law. The guidelines that accompany it, and elaborate on how to implement the principles enshrined in the law, should – CEO believes - be considered to have a de facto binding character as well.The European Parliament’s rapporteur on the Tobacco Products Directive, Linda McAvan MEP, has nonetheless publicly listed the meetings she has had with the tobacco and electronic cigarette industry, as well as NGOs and government agencies. She has included these as a legislative footprint to her draft report on the TPD for the ENVI committee, listing all the organisations she met with, received, or heard from representatives, as rapporteur.21 The footprint shows she had ten contacts with EU and National Regulatory Agencies, 7 with NGOs and 3 with industry. Participant lists and records of the two open meetings with industry (tobacco industry and suppliers,22 and the e-cigarette industry23) are also made available. The practice of having only public hearings with the tobacco industry is a very good one. Ms McAvan's approach not only meets the requirements of the FCTC but sets a good benchmark for the practice of a legislative footprint, and it is one that CEO would like to see followed by Commission and Parliament alike.The political grouping in Parliament most serious about implementation of the WHO rules is the Greens, who have an online 'Registry of contacts between Greens/EFA and the tobacco industry'.24 This lists all contacts between Members and/or staff of the Greens/EFA group and the tobacco industry, and includes details of 17 meetings during the last three months.The Greens are the only political group that has a coherent policy across all its MEPs, but there are also MEPs in other groups who are actively implementing the WHO rules. Rebecca Taylor, an ALDE MEP, states on her website that:"The World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control requires policy makers to be as transparent as possible when meeting with representatives of the tobacco industry and other affiliated companies, and so details of all such meetings will be published below. In the interests of balance, I am also including details of meetings with all stakeholders on the tobacco directive."Ms Taylor lists around 20 meetings over the last few months, March to June 2013, the vast majority of which appear to be with the tobacco or e-cigarette industry.25The GUE/NGL has been very outspoken about being pro-transparency. For example, MEP Martina Anderson has stated that she “urges fellow MEPs to adhere to WHO conduct guidelines"26, but it is not clear whether the GUE group have actually had any tobacco industry meetings to declare. Contrastingly, Christa Klass, the EPP MEP who tabled 12 amendments almost exactly the same as alleged tobacco industry amendments, stated in an interview with CEO that she does not publish or declare her meetings with the tobacco industry: “No, why should I?”. When informed of the FCTC requirement to do so, she replied “I have no time for this. I would need another secretary to do all this."In an attempt to find out more about other meetings between MEPs and tobacco lobbyists, CEO wrote to 102 members (and their substitutes) on the ENVI committee to ask if they had met with tobacco lobbyists in the previous six months. We had very few responses from which to elaborate, with only six MEPs answering our questions. (See Annex 3)It is perhaps worth noting however the variety of these responses. Karl-Heinz Florenz MEP listed seven meetings with representatives from e-cigarette firms and the tobacco industry since February 2013 (Annex 3). Jutta Haug MEP reported meetings with representatives from one tobacco company and one manufacturer. Anna Rosbach MEP said she had met with some tobacco lobbyists but had declined others because she was concerned that hey were not on the Transparency Register. Sandrine Belier MEP was invited to a meeting but declined. Tobacco company Swedish Match asked to see Rebecca Harms MEP but she refused. Nessa Childers MEP said she had not been invited to any meetings.ConclusionsThe tobacco lobby – and e-cigarette industry – has been intensifying its lobbying offensive towards the European Parliament. Their tactics and strategies have included frequent calls, emails and invitations for drinks and meals; the distribution to MEPs of product samples; turning up to MEP offices without prior arrangements; putting pressure on MEPs to table amendments that are in their interests; orchestrating email and social media campaigns; and, indirect lobbying through small retailers, anti-counterfeiting firms and farmers’ groups. All of this should be seen in the context of the UN FCTC – which prohibits contacts between public health policy-makers and the tobacco industry unless strictly necessary to regulate it, and then only under complete public transparency.The bulk of our research, including contacts with MEPs, has indicated that:Many MEPs, their assistants and advisers have described an intense or even 'aggressive' lobby from tobacco industry representatives, particularly in regards to high numbers of telephone calls, emails and requests for meetings. Others seem to be less targeted, and note public health NGOs, although far fewer in number and resources, also have a prominent lobby presence.It is apparent that the tobacco lobby knows who to target to achieve the best results (for its interests), in particular targeting MEPs that they see as more receptive to their arguments as well as those on opinion giving – rather than the lead committee on the Tobacco Products Directive – committees.The electronic cigarette industry has in recent months represented a particularly vociferous lobby, notably using social media campaigns, ‘astro turfing’ tactics as well as the distribution of free samples.Only some political groupings, as well as certain individual MEPs – notably including the rapporteur on the Directive - are publicly disclosing meetings and contacts with tobacco industry representatives. There is not yet a consistent implementation of the UN FCTC rules on contacts with tobacco lobbyists by the European Parliament. There have even – very worryingly – been signals from the Parliament that suggest they do not consider the FCTC to be legally binding on them and consequently see no need for a consistent approach to transparency around tobacco contacts.There is evidence that industry-sourced amendments have made their way more or less word-for-word into the amendments proposed by some MEPs. Two MEPs in particular appear to have largely copy-pasted from the documents showing amendments in the industry's favour – and contrary to the strengthening of public health policy.With a key European Parliament ENVI committee vote on new tobacco legislation taking place later this week, this report is a curtain-raiser on the scale and intensity of tobacco industry lobbying that has been going on in the Parliament in recent months. The tobacco industry has a long record of manipulation and disinformation, which has - uniquely - resulted in international law intended to minimise interactions between the tobacco industry and public-health policy makers. The lobby battle around the EU's new Tobacco Products Directive however shows considerable activity from traditional tobacco lobbyists as well as e-cigarette companies, resulting in numerous contacts between policy-makers and the tobacco industry, many of which are subject to little or no transparency. The concerns expressed by many MEPs about the apparent tobacco industry amendments tabled via their Parliamentary colleagues, indicates that the tobacco lobby is having significant success where it should not even be having significant access.For the Annexes, please see attached PDF, or click here.Photo by Rares M. Dutu,CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, via Flickr------ 1. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-12-1391_en.htm 2. http://corporateeurope.org/publications/mapping-tobacco-lobby-brussels-s... 3. For more details on the shortcomings of the Eu's voluntary approach to lobby transparency, and the current review of the register, see the ALTER-EU report 'Rescue the Register! How to make EU lobby transparency credible and reliable', http://www.alter-eu.org/sites/default/files/documents/Rescue_the_Registe... 4. UN WHO FCTC Article 5.3, and accompanying guidelines. See, for example, http://www.who.int/fctc/guidelines/article_5_3.pdf and http://www.smokefreepartnership.eu/documents/briefing-article-53-fctc-gl... 5. http://ec.europa.eu/health/tobacco/introduction/index_en.htm 6. http://ec.europa.eu/transparencyregister/info/about-register/codeOfCondu... 7. For more information, see ALTER-EU's June 2013 report, Rescue the Register! How to make EU lobby transparency credible and reliable http://www.alter-eu.org/sites/default/files/documents/Rescue_the_Registe... 8. ALTER-EU Briefing on the Code of Conduct for Lobbyists, http://www.alter-eu.org/sites/default/files/documents/ALTER-EU_Briefing_... 9. Quoted in the European Voice 18/10/12 http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/imported/the-invisible-hand-of-big-... 10. Interview with Christa Klass MEP, 3rd July 11. Holger Krahmer’s office was asked for an interview by phone and email on 26/06/13 and again on 01/07/13. Mr Krahmer did not respond. 12. Wall Street Journal, 18 June 2013, Battle Brewing in Europe Over E-Cigarettes, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142412788732383650457855339088752479... 13. http://www.skycig.co.uk/ecita 14. http://www.totallywicked-eliquid.co.uk/news/2013/june/totally-wickeds-ma... 15. http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/complaint_swedishmatch_lo... 16. http://corporateeurope.org/publications/ceo-submits-ombudsman-complaint-... 17. http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/en/newsdetails/news/world/Dalli-transferred... 18. http://corporateeurope.org/pressreleases/2013/european-commissions-petit... 19. http://www.who.int/fctc/guidelines/article_5_3.pdf 20. http://corporateeurope.org/news/commission-shabby-implementation-un-rule... 21. p. 46,http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-%2f%2fEP%2f%2fNONS... 22. Open meeting with the tobacco industry and upstream and downstream suppliers, participant list available athttp://www.mepheartgroup.eu/meetings-activities/item/52-the-battle-again... and record of the meeting available athttp://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201303/20130320AT... 23. Open meeting with the electronic cigarette industry, Participant list available http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201303/20130320AT... and record of the meeting available http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/envi/events.html?id=other#me... 24. www.greens-efa.eu/revision-of-the-tobacco-directive-9319.html 25. http://www.rebeccataylor.eu/my-work-in-parliament/ 26. http://www.derrysinnfein.ie/news/24041
 

Comments

Submitted by Oliver Kershaw (not verified) on

I find your conflation of the electronic cigarette industry with the tobacco industry frankly disingenuous. There is no evidence that any of the increased lobbying over the last period is anything to do with tobacco's interests in the segment. The reality is that this latest lobbying effort is, in most part, being organised by users, and they are not astro turfed in any meaningful sense; I don't doubt that funds for certain activities are provided by electronic cigarette suppliers, but the leaders of the effort are singularly identifiable individuals, or consumer groups with no financial or fiduciary relationships to the electronic cigarette industry.

FYI, it's an indictment of the fact that the industry itself has been developed by an entrepreneurial class with no links to corporate power that the lobbying efforts have been controlled by consumers! It is they, after all, that stand to lose the most by having these products removed (which they surely will under the current TPD draft). Frankly, I'm quite cross that the industry hasn't managed to effectively lobby on its own terms, but they have locked out of the debate precisely because of their (incorrectly) perceived links to tobacco. It's a real shame, because it leaves the MEPs open to the accusation that they don't really have their constituents' issues at heart: a highly damaging accusation, especially in these times of increased Euro-skepticism.

I understand your wish to expose tobacco and corporate lobbying generally, but you're dead wrong on this.

Incidentally, the 'distribution of free samples' is a very leading way of describing what that particular company did: they sent out a device to MEPs, because they believed (correctly) that the MEPs had no real idea what the product actually looks like or does. Educational, in other words, and nothing sinister at all. Yes, they went for the PR on it, but what company wouldn't?

Disclaimer, I am the founder of e-cigarette-forum.com, and have a financial interest in the continuation of the industry. But having an interest does not necessarily place one on the wrong side of the argument.

Submitted by Lenny Stubbs (not verified) on

I wish to second the above comments. As members of the e-cigarette industry, it is very hard to come across as unbiased, but Oliver Kershaw's highly coherent and logical arguments above had me nodding with agreement throughout.

Lenny Stubbs
Founder
The Electric Tobacconist Ltd
http://www.electrictobacconist.co.uk

Submitted by Anna Lawless (not verified) on

Is it inconceivable for you to see a genuine grass roots campaign by people who 'vape' to fight the attempt to remove that right? I don't know if you support the Tobacco Lobby (which wants medicalised ecigs in order to control the market() or Pharma who hope they'll sell more of there failure NRT, but how dare you accuse us of being corporate lobbyists! If you learnt that the EU were planning to pass laws that will make you ill and kill you, wouldn't you object? Why do you find it impossible to believe that ordinary people are so angry and so worried about your plans, which have no modern science backing them, that we write, use twitter, see MEPs when we can? We are capable of understanding how the EU works, our lives depend on it so we work fast and we are not stupid. There are millions of us in the EU, most know nothing about your plans, but they are in fact genocidal discrimination. We don't vape to stop using nicotine but to stop smoking tobacco and this is the only way that works. Even if MAs are granted the industry would be stifled, unable to innovate, and most vapers would start smoking again. I suspect that is what you want, you are tobacco company lobbyists. Why else should you want to get rid of the possibility of making smoking history?

Submitted by dave knox (not verified) on

get your facts right and your heads out of the sand..i think anna hit the nail on the head ..we are ordinary people who found a safer alternative to smoking..cost dosnt come into it. these protests are about health and the choices we make and how dare you call us lobbyists..this product can save millions of lives around the world..do you really want to create anarchy and the biggest black market the world has ever seen?because take it from me you are on route 1 for doing so..please wake up and research the facts properly because its obvious to me a simple layman ..that you know nothing of what you preach or are criminally protecting pharma and tobacco interests..nuff said

Submitted by Liam Bryan (not verified) on

I've written to my MEPs, so I'm a Tobacco shill am I?
Or am I someone who's realised that ecigs are better than cigarettes and that the EU might ban them unless I try to do something?
Or is this comment tobacco shenanigans?
Shewsh, conspiracy upon conspiracy, the ecig thing is an example of actual people doing actual things.
Simple as.

Submitted by Jonny Lavery (not verified) on

E-cigarettes are NOTHING to do with tobacco cigarettes, or Tobacco at all. In recent years big Tobacco has started buying out honest ecig companies, and it is a tobacco company that is one of the first to apply for a medical authorisation. Thats right- BAT have applied for a MEDICINES LICENCE. How did this happen? because the genuine and virtuous contacts made between the growing community of ecig users has been considered by the dishonourable Mr. Murphy (shame to be an Irishman) as 'plastic grass roots'! We are REAL! We are MANY! And we are MIGHTILY pi55ed off at attempts by the worlds two biggest megalopolies to curtail nicotine for their own. As a root-grown, independent industry, independently and stringently regulated, and run by enthusiasts, it is a much more wholesome standpoint than those of the Drug or Tobacco lobbies, and I resent the tone of the piece for allowing the allusion of the three as being in any way bound or mutually beneficial. Mark my words, the only people that will win out of medicalisation are Pharma and Tobacco, and the losers are: the general public (second hand smoke), the vapers (who may return to smoking), the government (through loss of business revenue taxes), the members of parliament (who will not get our votes) and the reader: because no matter who YOU are, you have friends or family that will die from smoking related illnesses. Wake up! We are normal people! Help us!

Submitted by Jonny (not verified) on

Well said Jonny and many of the other comments left here, we have finally found an alternative that could literally be a life saver and this could soon be taken away. The European Commissions new proposals are just crazy, trying to take e cigs out of the hands of millions. The result we be a return to cigs for the majority! For anyone that hasn't seen this Clive Bates post http://www.clivebates.com/?p=1655 then you really need to.

There is a mountain to climb for e cig users but we know we cannot go back to tobacco so we will do everything to fight what is literally for our lives.

Jonny@ http://www.ecigclick.co.uk

Submitted by Alan Depauw (not verified) on

Why do you lump together the nascent industry of the electronic cigarette with the far larger one of tobacco? A great many experts have shown that electronic cigarettes are much safer; for example, a report commissioned by the French Ministry of Health found that “the e-cigarette, if correctly made and properly used, is a product that is infinitely less harmful than cigarettes." ('Rapport et avis d'experts sur l'e-cigarette', Office Français de prevention du tabagisme, May 2013)

You attack the electronic cigarette industry’s lobbying power, but you do not mention that it must be minuscule compared to the €40 million spent annually by the pharmaceutical industry to influence EU decision makers in general and MEPs in particular. You fail to mention that the electronic cigarette, whilst making no health claim, seems to be substantially more effective and is certainly more popular in helping smokers to quit tobacco than the products promoted by the pharmaceutical industry.

You quote an MEP’s assistant who claims that the electronic cigarette industry has created user forums. The one I belong to in France was created in 2008, carries no advertising and has 37000 members. The concern we express about the proposed Tobacco Products Directive, which at the request of the pharmaceutical industry would effectively kill the electronic cigarette as we know it today, is entirely self-generated and is independent of any industrial lobby.

Submitted by Harry Johnsons (not verified) on

<a href="http://www.suncig.com.au ">E-cig</a> are pretty safer than tobacco your explanation is perfect but with the help of e-cigs in the market there is less consumption of tobacco now a days which is good, thanks for your important note on Electronic cigarettes.

Submitted by Josef K (not verified) on

Please make the effort to understand the interests and priorities of those groups and individuals involved as it does your article no credit to be peppered with misinformation and misalignment.

It also grossly offends and insults those individual citizens that you deem (through quotation and conclusion) associated with industrialised lobbying tactics merely because they have expressed those concerns by contacting their MEPs.

In future please try and make informed and educated distinctions between lobbying groups, lobbyists, and those EU citizens 'lobbying' their MEPs on an individual basis.

Submitted by Jens Mellin (not verified) on

ONE question: Which one of "the Greens" have published their connections to BigPharma? It's worth looking for ;)

Submitted by Vaper, non-smoker (not verified) on

Thesaurus -Noun 1. lobbyist - someone who is employed to persuade legislators to vote for legislation that favors the lobbyist's employer.

Sir/Madam,with respect,i'm a stay at home Mum,a former smoker who has used an Electronic cigarette since 2009 and I certainly DO NOT get paid by anyone to 'lobby' for E-Cigs to be kept out of Medical regulation. I do have a P.C.,use of the internet, a brain and individual motivation to do what I think is right.

Not Lobbyist, Vapers.

Submitted by will smith (not verified) on

PLEASE get these laws passed! Time for europe to be on par with other western countries (aus, new zealand, canada, parts of the US). So many people smoke in Europe compared to these other places it's disgusting!!

Submitted by David Moger (not verified) on

Do you not understand that e cigs are the answer to old smokers who CANNOT give up. They are 1000 times safer than real cigs. The vapor is totally harmless to other people. What we are trying to do is give up smoking. These laws will take this away.
Vaper, not paid by anyone, did my own research. Maybe some research on your part would have been good before you posted.

Submitted by Bernd (not verified) on

I´m a user of the E-cigarette and member in a german e-cigarette forum. there i find lots of informations about e-cigarettes. When I write to my EMP, its discusting, that they say, I´m good informed, so I must be a member of a lobby. Which sort of Europeans do the politicans like? Uninformed sheeps?

Submitted by BrokenArrow (not verified) on

Before becoming an e-cig user, I got all of the information I can by myself everywhere on the Internet.
On forums, Chats and Social Networks, I've talked to Scientists and Doctors.
So I thougth that I could use it safely.
So MEPs should do before lawing.

Submitted by BrokenArrow (not verified) on

Before becoming an e-cig user, I got all of the information I can by myself everywhere on the Internet.
On forums, Chats and Social Networks, I've talked to Scientists and Doctors.
Then I thought that I can use e-cig safely to quit smoking.
So MEPs should do before making laws.

I'm an individual, Vaper. Certainly not a lobbyist paid by a Big Something.

Submitted by David Moger (not verified) on

I am a user. Not paid by anybody, never have been.
Is it not easy to sort out. If I were the boss I would look at how each person votes and the ones who vote against the scientific facts I would assume to have been got at.
We could do worse than call for e cigs to be lumped in with stinky cigarettes then they would be freely available, can have as much nicotine as we like and we can have additives put in to make them addictive just like real cigarettes. Unfortunately they would tax us to death then.

Submitted by Jon Holland (not verified) on

Millions of EU citizens switched to a safer alternative to cigarettes, most researched the safety aspect of Ecigs first. Now we are under threat from ridiculous legislation that will destroy the product we use & turn it into another useless NRT, this legislation is from people who don't understand what its like trying to quit tobacco, they have not properly researched the product & have given very little time to the people who are doing (have been doing for some time) proper scientific research. The result is a large number of very angry citizens who now have the tools thanks to the internet to get organised & oppose this nonsense. We dont need lobbyists & we certainly dont want any association with the tobacco industry that is killing millions of people every year. MEP's need to realise that they are here to represent us not their own ideologies, social media is handing some power back to the people ... get used to it. Some MEP's have listened, done the research & realise the proposed regulation of Ecigs is going to be a public health disaster but unfortunately there are many that keep their heads in the sand & are under the illusion that they know best.

Ecigs are the way to end the tobacco industry they can even see the writing on the wall, the EU wants to give them all the protection they need.

Submitted by Bill Godshall (not verified) on

Big Pharma lobbyists and Big Pharma funded health and medical groups are the truly greedy, inhumane and unethical culprits that wrote and have been aggressively lobbying for the extremist EU TPD to protect sales and profits of Big Pharma's ineffective gum, lozenges and patches (that have a 95% failure rate for smoking cessation) and high risk Champix (that increases risk of heart attacks, depression and suicide).

While smokefree electronic cigarettes have already saved the lives of several million smokers, the proposed EU TPD e-cigarette ban will kill smokers and vapers alike. That's not public health, but rather public health malpractice.

As a public health activists who has campaigned to reduce cigarette smoking for the past 30 years, I'm appalled at the extremist EU TPD policy proposals that will harm and kill tobacco users and create black markets just to protect the profits of greedy drug companies.

It appears that the author of this article is either an idiot or yet another Big Pharma PR hack.

Bill Godshall
Executive Director
Smokefree Pennsylvania
1926 Monongahela Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15218
412-351-5880
smokefree@compuserve.com

Submitted by Zipslack (not verified) on

Any time the World Health Organization gets involved, I have to shake my head in disbelief. This organization is full of people that believe their views and beliefs should be forced on everybody else and they will resort to lies and propaganda to try to persuade others. The WHO has no credibility in this matter - why would any intelligent person pay any heed to them?

Submitted by Zillatron (not verified) on

Thanks for your good work in our FUD campaign.
The check is in the mail.

Your Big Pharma

(Just to be sure: That was ironic ...)

Submitted by Corporate Europ... on

Several paragraphs in the above article, published earlier this week, about lobbying on the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) have been interpreted as claiming that all or most citizens contacting MEPs on the issue of regulating e-cigarettes are the result of a lobbying campaign orchestrated by the e-cigarettes industry (astroturf). This is clearly not the case.


Several comments refer to lobbying on the TPD by the pharmaceutical industry, which is an issue we would be very interested in exploring further. Tips are greatly appreciated: ceo@corporateeurope.org

Submitted by Clive Bates (not verified) on

You might also look at Big Health and their interests. When a European Commission funded health alliance finds itself in agreement with the European Commission, what does that tells us about the views of citizens? Beware the smiling face of big charities too - many are driven fund-raising organisations, with a commercial ethos indistinguishable from the private sector. They will often take populist positions that have news appeal and drive donations - and the messy trade-offs needed to get optimum health outcomes through harm reduction don't have much popular appeal. All of them are prone to taking easy ideological prohibitionist stances on harm reduction. These factors explain why they oppose lifting the ban on snus, even though evidence shows beyond doubt it has had a huge beneficial health impact in Norway and Sweden and there is considerable expert support for lifting the ban for 'harm reduction' reasons. You can rave about tobacco or e-cig lobbying, but it is Big Health that actually gets its way - snus likely to remain banned, e-cigs likely to be excessively regulated. Perhaps it's time for CEO to engage in more searching examination of the interests and motivation of the 'health' lobby?

Submitted by Zillatron (not verified) on

Well, they didn't need to do overt lobbying.

The commission consultet them as "experts" on NCPs. When you read the draft on article 18 you'll find their foot prints all over. The proposed limits (18.1) are directly copied from the lowest values for their NRTs.

At the ENVI "expert" hearing on Feb 25th they had the same "experts" they had consulted. One of them was Dr. Martina Pötschke-Langer of the DKFZ (german cancer research). With her final words the translator had a hard time understanding her apocalyptic rantings. Can't blame him. Even as a native speaker I had a hard time grasping her deranged meaning.

The scientific quality of their pamphlets on e-cigs rivals http://dhmo.org/facts.html
The basic facts are not quite false, but the way they are presented is totally distorted and out of context. And they just ignore everything that doesn't fit their ideology. Just take the time and check what the cited studies really say. Not just the abstracts, but the real data and compare them with other studies.
In one case they went way over board: http://www.ecita.org.uk/blog/index.php/dkfz-german-cancer-research-center/ or http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.de/2013/05/german-cancer-research-center...
But still their desinformation is treated like a pillar of wisdom and faithfully parroted by the commission and a lot of zealots and lazy MEPs. Those consider sending them scientifically solid facts "lobbying". Like http://www.e-rauchen-wahrheiten.de/ which is about 630 pages of allegedly non existing studies.

And please watch the ENVI work shop on May 7th: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/committees/video?event=20130507...
The only real scientist among these "experts" was Dr. Etter. None of the other have published anything on the topic. Listen to his sarcastic - but very true - words at 13:29:41.
Read more about it: http://www.clivebates.com/?p=1138
And more about some of the alleged "experts" and their presentation:
http://www.ecita.org.uk/blog/index.php/the-european-society-of-cardiolog...
http://www.ecita.org.uk/blog/index.php/the-european-respiratory-society-...
http://www.ecita.org.uk/blog/index.php/why-the-who-is-not-qualified-to-a...
They all claim that treating e-cig as medical products would be the best solution for all. Except for Dr. Etter and Dr. Polosa in the audience.

Well, the zealots reached their goal.

Now Big Pharma and Big Tobacco can have their parties. They got their "level playing field" e-cigs on a silver platter from ENVI. Requiring regulation as medical products is the perfect bulldozer to level all that pesky independent, small competition. Only the really Big Ones have that much money. Their technically obsolete junk wouldn't have a chance to really compete on the current market. That stuff from Big Tobacco will never be such a threat to Pharma's useless NRTs.

Please look for yourselves and check the facts as most MEPs obviously didn't.

Submitted by Ian Wallace (not verified) on

I was a smoker for 20years as was my wife for the last year we have vaped and our health has improved 100 fold, my daughter 10years old saw the mhra ruling on tv and asked me about it so i explained what it would me her reply to me "Daddy why do the bad people make silly laws that can kill people they should be helping them" so she asked me to write to them to think about it, and so i have all my mp`s and all my mep`s. now by your description my 10 year old daughter must some how be involved in the tobacco industry lobby groups. please grow up and actually see what is happening in the lifes of ordinary people you look to protect. oh and before i go WHO stated that cartridges they tested contained between 0-24mg of nicotine but in some cases upto 100mg well a cartridge holds 1ml of liquid if your lucky and at that dosage would kill even a harded smoker considering the mhra state it is generally regarded that between 30-60mg is a lethal dose, so please tell me WHO is spreading lies. i would like CEO to look into the evidence that is starting to come to light that WHO gets the majority of its funding from pharmaceutical industry - its hard to be independant when someone pays most of your bills (lobbing by the £$ via the back door)

Submitted by Switchtoecig (not verified) on

You say: "The electronic cigarette industry has in recent months represented a particularly vociferous lobby, notably using social media campaigns, ‘astro turfing’ tactics as well as the distribution of free samples."

You know what the problem with electronic cigarette industry is? There are many regular Joes and Josephines (people like me) in it. So they assume somewhat naively that you do what you've been doing because you need information and education on the subject (hence the distribution of free samples. To make sure you know what you're talking about).

But you already know what you are talking about. And you don't need education. You need correction in a corresponding facility to somehow decorrupt you.

You are enemies of the public health. You are enemies of my family and myself.

Submitted by Michael Pillos (not verified) on

Before the vote, tobacco lobbyists were reported to have tried influencing Members of the European Parliament. The lobbying goes against a World Health Organization’s law from 2005 that bans the tobacco industry from interacting with public-health policy makers. An investigation by the Corporate Europe Observatory discovered there are 97 full time tobacco lobbyists in Brussels with an annual budget of around 5.3 million Euros, outnumbering those lobbying on tobacco regulation from a public health perspective.

None the less, Europe is doing far more than any other nation to proactively reduce smoking and improve health standards.

Submitted by John (not verified) on

"None the less, Europe is doing far more than any other nation to proactively reduce smoking and improve health standards."

Ban of menthol, minimum dimensions of cigarettes, no selling under 20 cigarettes at once, surgical pornography to cigarette packs and transferring e-cig industry to big pharma. Ain´t that something? Surely EU has saved us from the claws of big bad tobacco.

Submitted by Zillatron (not verified) on

Big Tobacco is ready to stake their claim on this astroturf:

http://www.medgadget.com/2012/01/nicadex-device-may-become-part-of-forma...
http://www.thegrocer.co.uk/topics/e-cigarette-brands-back-mhra-plans-for...
And guess who's behind these companies?
BAT, Phillip Morris, ...

They wouldn't have a long term chance with these obsolete contraptions competing on the current market. Linda McAvan and her henchmen paved the road for them. And guess who'll make sure that this junk will be more expensive than the equivalent in tobacco cigs.

Submitted by mobi72 (not verified) on

The only thing I did was to write to my MEP about my concern about Big Pharma trying to eliminate an alternative to their useless products.

My father died of lung cancer a couple of years ago und I myself was worried that the EU would try to take overregulate an alternative that seems to be a lot less harmful http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/health/news/article3713051.ece and hand over the market to pharma-lobbyists.
That is exactly what has happened now.

Why doesn't corporateeurope check about possible lobbying by David Harley of Burson-Marsteller and his connection to Linda McAvan: http://dickpuddlecote.blogspot.de/2013/07/ignore-public-listen-to-macava...

Karl-Heinz Florenz MEP might also not be the best choice if you ask for an opinion obout e-cigarettes.
He just announced in the german yellow press that e-cigarettes might be the starting shot to a drug career:
http://www.bild.de/news/inland/e-zigarette/mit-e-zigaretten-werden-auch-...

Submitted by Switchtoecig (not verified) on

So many fathers and mothers have died like Mobi72's (sorry to hear that, Mobi). My father also died from smoking related illness at the age of 63.

And to think that the first electronic cigarette was invented waaaay back in 1963! That one was vaporless, but if they hadn't swept it under the carpet back then, the developments towards the vapour cigarette would have been made decades ago, I'm sure.

So the crime that powers-to-be have made is bigger than we think.

And this EU vote is just their "cherry on the top of the cake".

I'm so angry that I can hardly talk.

But I can write. So, here goes:
http://bestegoecigs.com/they-dont-need-no-education/

Submitted by ares (not verified) on

Please approve ecigarettes because if you dont you got a pickle on your hands. The only reason this vote is coming out is not because of safety but because you want to get the money back that you are losing from the tax that people arent paying anymore on real cigarettes!

Thats the real reason so stop trying to fool everyone, the uk govermenet loses 125 million pounds a week from people who switched over:
source - http://electroniccigarettebud.co.uk/why-the-laws-on-electronic-cigarette...

Submitted by Dontbanecigs (not verified) on

This would cause so many peoples life to be ruined if they decide to ban e cigs, many people rely on these as they have switched! If you take that away then people would have to start smoking tobacco again, which will basically end there life. I quit with e cigs, and so did my parents who were smoking for over 40 years and I believe because of them there life expectancy will be increased, and they will be able to see there grandchildren grow up.

There is clearly a tobacco influence in all this and personally I would change my vote to which ever party will be against the ban of these life saving quitting aids.

Source: http://www.cloudcig.co.uk/how-to-beat-an-new-eu-initiative-not-to-ban-e-...

Submitted by Kasper (not verified) on

It is amazing how the lobbyists can infulence and manipulate. But it is not only from the tobacco lobbyists that the pressure comes from.

In Denmark the lobbyists from the nicotine gum and patch companies are doing a massive lobbyism on the Danish government. They do that because e-cigarettes actually works and makes people quit smoking, so they feel deepky under pressure.

I really thing that all lobbyists should be fired. From all branches. It´s a strange way to run the system, to allow them to infulence the politicians.

Best regards,
Kasper
Denmark
Founder of http://din-ecigaret.dk/

Submitted by lily prichard (not verified) on

My feeling is e cigarettes will be banned from the eu especially since itvs program of the rise of the ecigarette where it was mentioned that the eu and britain has 2 years max to determine what the law is on ecigs.

The UK makes 10 billion pounds a year on taxing cigarettes and if everyone changes to e cigs, 10 billion is just too much to lose and sadly it will mean that e cigs will be banned or taxed very heavily.

Lily, owner of http://bestecigreviews.org/

Submitted by Frank Eskelund (not verified) on

In Denmark the lobbyists are all over the place. Where they are most evident in Denmark is at the Board of Health and cancer.dk (cancer.dk is an institution against cancer).
They get incredibly much space in the media and through them, they discourage the use of e cigarettes for nicotine gum, inhalers etc.
It has got so many of my clients and go back to cigarettes, because they believe that e cigarettes are more dangerous than cigarettes.
Fortunately, we have e cigarette association Daddafo who are fighting an uphill battle against the lobbyists. I sincerely hope they succeed and get through to our dear politicians with our joint message, legalize e cigarettes.

Best regards
Frank Eskelund
http://smartsmoke.dk

Submitted by John Petersen (not verified) on

I have been using e-cigarettes for several years now and I must say they have improved my life and I can't understand why the politicans won't let ecigarettes be legal. It is the best solution for smokers and can help alot of people..

I write about e-cigarettes on http://ecigaretguiden.dk/

Submitted by John Petersen (not verified) on

I have been using e-cigarettes for several years now and I must say they have improved my life and I can't understand why the politicans won't let ecigarettes be legal. It is the best solution for smokers and can help alot of people..

I write about e-cigarettes on http://ecigaretguiden.dk/

Submitted by Jacob (not verified) on

I don't understand why e-cigarettes are under attack from politicans. It's the best alternative to normal smoking and only making the world a healthier place.
Look at the following research
http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2013/03/05/tobaccocontrol-20...
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23363041

No doubt about e-cigarettes are a great sulotion
Jacob@ http://ecigaretguiden.dk/

Submitted by Christian (not verified) on

I agree with Jacob. E-cigarettes is the best alternative to normal smoking, and it is healthier, cheaper and better for the environment.

There is also studies from United Kingdom that shows e-cigarettes is 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. See this: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/e-cigarettes-around-95-less-harmful-t...

I wonder if the politicians get support from the major tobacco companies, since they are so willing to attack e-cigarettes.

Christian http://www.ecigaretshops.dk/

Submitted by jose prichard (not verified) on

How is it possible that e cigarettes cant be made legal, i have heard of various government officials using the product themselves yet instead the UK government has been given 2 years to decide whats the official law on e cigs. Its insane I know the revenues will go down but that shouldnt matter as long as it is saving lives and converting people from cigs to e cigs.

I predict that e cigs will in fact be banned which is a shame and instead the nicotine inhalers from the nhs will be promoted because revenues will be passed back to the governement again.

Jose, founder of http://www.bestecigaretteuk.org/

Submitted by patrick dever (not verified) on

They should just regulate it and tax the product rathe rthan ban it altogether. At the moment it just seems like a propaganda to push people away from this devices so taxes can still be made from normal tobacco!

Patrick @ http://www.realsmokefree.co.uk/

Submitted by Jeff (not verified) on

the problem is governments of all nations are losing money at an extraordinary rate because of the money lost from the taxing of cigarettes since people are moving towards electric cigarettes however what most governments don't realize is that if e cigs are proven to be less dangerous as recent studies seem to show compared to the real things, then that money and more that is being lost will be recouped from national healthcare.

Jeff @ http://besteliquiduk.org.uk/

Submitted by Frederik L (not verified) on

All conspiracy theories aside, nobody really knows what exactly they inhale, and there are no regulataions at all for the producers of the different flavors. Anybody can sell their own flavors with what ever inside that thay think gives a good taste.

Frederik L @ Oejenvippeshoppen.dk

Submitted by Jan (not verified) on

As many have already expressed it is all about losing taxes on regular tobacco. To me, it seems crazy that lobbyists fight an alternative product, that causes no trouble for the users. In the end it's all about choice, but if we choose e-cigarettes, at least there will be no second hand smoking.

Submitted by Steve (not verified) on

Whilst the focus is on e cigs and regulation and big tobacco and pharma manipulations - vapers in the mean time need to look at what it they are vaping - it is the quality of the e-liquid that may or may not affect you long term. With no regulation in place the vast majority of liquid suppliers do not put exact and precise detailed ingredients on their product. Many research papers demonstrate that there are differences in eliquids and that some have shown to contain ingredients that are harmful.
Until sensible legislation comes into effect - use only fully tested e-liquids with full ingredients listed that are pharma grade.

Steve@ https://pure-eliquids.com/

Submitted by Chris (not verified) on

It's a shame that the big tobacco firms can't get on board with e-cigs. Instead they still choose to produce some crappy cig-a-likes, which ultimately leads consumers back to their normal cigarettes. Big tobacco doesn't want e-cigs to succeed, as it will result in them losing a lot of money from regular cigarettes. This is why I don't think we will see big tobacco taking vaping seriously and they will do their best to lobby against e-cigs.

It seems crazy to think that a product with the capability of saving millions and millions of lives, will possibly be banned or regulated to death. Unfortunately, this is the greedy corrupt world we live in. I hope to be proven wrong and that vaping can prosper and help millions quit smoking and thus potentially save a lot of lives!

Chris K.
CEO of TBEC Review: www.the-best-electronic-cigarette-review.com

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CEO presents some first reflections on the UK's vote for Brexit.

Think tanks work all around the institutions of the European Union but how they work and who they work with is often less clear. Our new report offers a closer look at these supposedly impartial hubs of expertise and highlights how the think-tank status has become a convenient vehicle for corporate lobbying activities.

The European Commission proposal on scientific criteria defining endocrine disruptors (EDCs) is the latest dangerous outgrowth of a highly toxic debate. The chemical lobby, supported by certain Commission factions (notably DG SANTE and the Secretary-General) and some member states (UK and Germany), has put significant obstacles in the way of effective public health and environment regulation.

In the run up to the UK referendum on EU membership on 23 June, Corporate Europe Observatory has tabled a series of freedom of information requests to find out how UK finance lobbies have been influencing the referendum negotiations and the Capital Markets Union. But the Brexit-Bremain referendum seems to be a freedom of information black hole.

A few weeks after the May coup against Dilma Rousseff by conservative parties backed by the country's largest corporations, Brazil's “interim” government, led by Michel Temer, signed an emergency loan to the State of Rio de Janeiro to help finance infrastructure for the 2016 Olympics. The bailout was conditional to selling off the State's public water supply and sanitation company, the Companhia Estadual de Águas e Esgotos (Cedae). 

When we interviewed City Councillor and chair of Rio’s Special Committee on the Water Crisis Renato Cinco, in December 2015, he was already warning against such privatisation threats and provided important background information on the water situation in Rio.

José Manuel Barroso's move to Goldman Sachs has catapulted the EU’s revolving door problem onto the political agenda. It is symbolic of the excessive corporate influence at the highest levels of the EU.

Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth and LobbyControl today wrote to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, calling on him to investigate Angelika Nieber MEP over a possible conflict of interest.

CEO presents some first reflections on the UK's vote for Brexit.

 
 
 
 
 
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The corporate lobby tour