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The Big Tobacco Linked Conservative MPs Opposing the Smoking Ban

The tobacco and vaping industries have provided extensive hospitality to MPs as part of their bid to oppose the Government’s planned smoking ban

An Advertising van drives past Parliament and urges MPs to vote for the smoking ban. Photo: Karl Black/Alamy

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Dozens of Conservative MPs on Tuesday voted against the Government’s plans to impose a smoking ban across the country.

Under the plans, anyone born after 2008 will be barred from ever buying cigarettes, with new restrictions also placed on the packaging and flavours of vapes.

Those currently opposing the planned bill include the Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch and the former Prime Minister Liz Truss, who described the plans as “unconservative”.

However, many of the opponents of the bill on the Conservative benches, including some of those who spoke up in the debate on Tuesday, have links to the tobacco and vaping industries.

Here are the tobacco industry-linked Conservative MPs now opposing the ban.

Adam Afriyie

Afriyie was among those speaking against the bill in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Addressing his colleagues in the chamber, Afriyie called for the bill to be scrapped, or delayed and described the plans as “ridiculous”, while suggesting that smoking bans “do not work”.

At the start of his speech, Afriyie did refer MPs to his register of interests. However, what he did not make clear in the Chamber is that this register reveals that in the past two years he has twice accepted flights, accommodation and hospitality from the tobacco industry amounting to a total value of nearly £19,000.

In 2022, Afriyie accepted transport, visa, food and accommodation with an estimated value of £10,338 from the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum to speak at a conference in Georgetown, USA. 

The following year he again accepted flights, transfers, accommodation and meals from the forum, which is funded by the tobacco and vaping industries, with an estimated value £8,384 to speak at their event in Seoul, South Korea.

Afriyie told Byline Times: “I am proud of the UK’s progress in harm reduction and as a Vice Chair of the APPG on vaping I was always pleased to accept speaking invitations and to share our success story.”

A spokesperson added that: “Mr Afriyie rightly referred to his interests in the register of members interests at the beginning of his contribution. This sum – which is properly recorded in the Register of Members’ Interests – represents the cost of flights, accommodation, and the visas required to attend conferences at which Mr Afriyie spoke on the UK Government’s position on tobacco harm reduction and the harms of smoking. Mr Afriyie did not receive a fee for speaking at these events.”

Liz Truss

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss was among the Conservative MPs speaking up against the new bill on Tuesday, describing it as a “virtue-signalling piece of legislation” which was “emblematic of a technocratic establishment in this country that wants to limit people’s freedom”.

Truss has had previous links to individuals and organisations with ties to the tobacco industry. In 2022 the then Prime Minister’s chief of staff Mark Fullbrook had to recuse himself from discussions about shelving the Government’s plans to tackle smoking due to his past work as a tobacco industry lobbyist.

Mark Fullbrook had previously worked on behalf of British American Tobacco and Philip Morris, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes.

Truss also appointed a number of senior advisers with ties to her favourite think tank, the Institute for Economic Affairs, which has reportedly received extensive funding from British American Tobacco.

‘Responsible Vapers’

On Tuesday a number of MPs broadly supportive of the Government’s plans, questioned why the Bill will allow the sale of vapes to continue, given the lack of evidence about the long-term impact of the habit.

However, a series of Conservative MPs stood up to defend vaping, which they described as a safer alternative to smoking.

Among them was the MP for Dartford, Gareth Johnson, who described the plans to phase out smoking as “absurd”.

What Johnson did not declare in the Chamber however, is that he is currently Chairman of the ‘All Party Parliamentary Group on Responsible Vaping’.

Earlier this week it was revealed that this cross-party group has been solely funded by the vaping industry.


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According to the I newspaper the APPG received £37,500 worth of funding from the Independent British Vape Trade Association, with one former head of the standards watchdog describing as a “backdoor way of influencing Government”.

There is no suggestion of impropriety by members of the group. However, it has recently criticised plans in the bill to restrict vaping flavours, using claims which mirror those made by the vaping industry, the I reported.

Johnson was contacted for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.

A total of six Conservative members of the Vaping APPG, including Johnson and Adam Afriyie, went onto vote against the bill on Tuesday.

Among them was the Conservative MP Christopher Chope, who has previously registered thousands of pounds worth of hospitality from the tobacco industry.

Another member of the APPG, Graham Brady, who also chairs the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers, recently led a roundtable at the Centre for Policy Studies to discuss the smoking ban proposals, which was sponsored by British American Tobacco.

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