Flower shows and festivals: tobacco industry hospitality and MP voting

Posted on by Jose K. Taing

Just hours after MPs within the united kingdom voted in favour of standardised (or plain) packaging for tobacco products, with a clear majority of 367 to 113, an impartial on line article appeared with the headline “simple cigarette packaging: One in four MPs who hostile measures have declared links to tobacco enterprise.â€

The clean implication is that those “links†may have inspired the way wherein MPs voted in this vital piece of tobacco manage law. But, without a comparator group (that is, knowing how a few of the MPs who voted in favour of standardised packaging had those same links), this ‘one in four’ statistic is intricate. As researchers who’ve investigated the effectiveness of standardised packaging and the role of the enterprise in subverting challenging tobacco manipulate policies, we desired to unpick this headline a bit greater.

Information to be had on Tobacco methods, a web academic aid which one of us contributes to, affords a listing of MPs who’ve obtained tobacco industry hospitality among 2011 and 2014 based totally on analysis of the house of Commons Registers of members’ economic interests.

This list exhibits that 37 MPs have acquired enterprise hospitality because 2011, seven of whom are Labour MPs and 30 of whom are Conservative MPs. This hospitality totals over £sixty two,000, or £1,686 in step with MP, frequently covering tickets to the Chelsea Flower display.

Pass-referencing those 37 names with the listing of how each MP voted suggests that 21 voted in opposition to the regulation, seven voted in favour of it and 9 abstained. This means that 19% of individuals who voted no had enjoyed hospitality in recent years, in comparison with 2% of the 367 who voted sure and five% of folks that abstained.

Even though the independent’s discern of one in 4 doesn’t quite stack up (the quantity’s nearer to 1 in five), it’s clear that a higher percent of these MPs who voted against standardised packaging had received hospitality from the tobacco enterprise as compared with those who both voted in favour of it or abstained from the vote.

What can we finish from this distinction? Perhaps not as a good deal as it would first seem, as those statistics can’t tell us something about the route of causality. We don’t recognise whether MPs’ vote casting behaviour was encouraged by way of the hospitality they acquired from the tobacco industry, or whether the ones MPs who have been already willing to vote in opposition to tobacco manipulate guidelines were additionally more likely to simply accept tobacco industry hospitality. Setting up whether found associations along with those are causal is notoriously tough. In addition, we can’t inform from this information whether the ones MPs who take delivery of hospitality from the tobacco industry are just much more likely to simply accept hospitality from any source.

As an end result, the problem of tobacco enterprise funding stays a contentious one; if the heaps spent on MPs on the tobacco enterprise’s expense did have an impact on balloting behaviour, then this is yet some other manner that the tobacco enterprise is managing to undermine Article five.3 of the Framework conference on Tobacco manage (a global health treaty on tobacco manage). All nations which have signed this Treaty (such as the UK) are required to take steps to limit tobacco industry interference in tobacco policymaking.

Irrespective of whether their views are already aligned with the ones of the tobacco enterprise, given the Treaty and the fact that tobacco smoking kills extra than 1 in 2 of its long-term customers, it’s far surprising that a few MPs are still willing to simply accept gifts from tobacco companies.

The tobacco industry has a robust incentive to persuade decision makers towards any similarly regulation of its commercial enterprise, so it’s miles vital that we maintain to reveal attempts made by the industry to lobby MPs, to check whether this has any bearing on their voting behaviour.

Dr Olivia Maynard is a research associate at the college of Bristol. Olivia uses neuroscience techniques to research the effectiveness of tobacco manipulate guidelines, together with standardised packaging and tobacco health warnings. Find her on Twitter @OliviaMaynard17. Dr Karen Evans-Reeves is a research associate with the Tobacco control research institution on the university of bath. Her research specializes in tracking the tobacco industry and the methods they used to disrupt and postpone the regulation of tobacco and smoking.

 

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