The TMA (Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association) has discredited a new report from the health lobbying group ASH*, claiming it revisits previous reports and documents that are already in the public domain.
Christopher Ogden, chief executive of the TMA, said: “It is the right of all parties, the tobacco industry included, to present their case when seeking to inform the legislative process in order to ensure that regulation is fair, effective and evidence based. However, all parties should give Ministers space to make their own policy assessments unhindered by cat calls from the sidelines.”
Ogden added: “The ASH report is riddled with inaccuracies, is highly emotive and attempts to spin the legitimate lobbying activities of tobacco manufacturers as illegitimate. This is somewhat hard to accept when set against ASH’s boast that its own lobbying activities amount to a ‘confidence trick’.”
Ogden added: “Like any other trade association, we are always open to engage and/or work with other organisations that share our views and concerns. It is perfectly proper for tobacco companies, retailers and wholesalers to co-operate with each other where we share similar points of view. ASH works together with groups that share its views. We have never thought to suggest that this is improper. Nor have we ever suggested that the many tobacco control lobby groups that receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry cannot be credible. This is because it is to be expected that parties that share similar views, on whatever side of a debate, will naturally co-operate in various ways.”
“We do support and work with the Tobacco Retailers Alliance but that organisation operates through its executive panel of 10 retailers, who receive no payment for their work, on behalf of its 26,000 members.”
Ogden concluded: “The TMA continues to represent the views of its member companies conscientiously and transparently. When we commission research to support our case, when we engage with or support third parties that share our views and when we brief parliamentarians or officials, we do so openly. It is quite wrong of ASH to suggest otherwise.”
*The smoke-filled room: How Big Tobacco influences health policy in the UK