Tobacco Companies Should be Banned From Advertising at Labour Party Conferences

Philip Morris

After a robacco company bought space at Labour Party conference, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said that tobacco companies should be banned from advertising at such events. He became angry when he found out that the party has taken money from Philip Morris, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, which has a stand in the exhibition in Brighton.

Another spot has been sold to the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance, a group which is against plain packaging. But the policy is supported by the Labour front bench.  Mr Burnham said that he would like the conference to be totally tobacco-free and this is his firm position.  “My request to the party is to make conference tobacco-free.”

Labour has  over and over again accused the Tories who hired the lobbyist Lynton Crosby as a key election adviser and who brought tobacco companies to the heart of Downing Street.  Mr Crosby’s lobbying firm is reported to have worked in favour of Philip Morris. He was brought in shortly before the Government cancelled plans to standardise packets.

He denies any statement about conversations with Prime Minister David Cameron on the subject.  This week Shadow public health minister Diane Abbott revealed the row at a meeting.  “The health team, led by Andy Burnham, did make representations to the party about this and we were not able to get that changed,” she said. “The health team is not happy about that.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband  on the recent conference criticized the influence of the tobacco companies on the Government in his introduction to the annual report of the party’s National Executive Council (NEC). “Britain’s children don’t have corporate lobbyists looking after their interests, like the big tobacco companies do.”

Labour members say that permitting any particular organisation to display at the conference does not reflect the party opinions.  “The Labour Party exhibition includes stands from a wide range of charities, companies and organisations putting forward their points of view,” a spokesman said. “This does not mean the Labour Party supports the view put forward by the exhibitor.”

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