Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has criticised two unionist MPs, Ian Paisley Jr DUP and Danny Kinahan UUP following revelations that they both accepted hospitality and Rugby World Cup tickets from Multi-national cigarette manufacturers Japan Tobacco Inc. (JTI).
Speaking from Derry, Ms Anderson said,
“Since I became MEP, I have made working to curb the influence of the tobacco industry a priority. In 2013 I was responsible for successfully guiding a Tobacco Products Directive through the European Parliament.
“This legislation made it a requirement that picture and text health warnings be included on relevant tobacco packaging. It also resulted in the banning of flavours, like chocolate and bubble-gum, and other such promotions being used by the tobacco industry to get children and young people addicted to their products.
“I am currently working on an Illicit Trade in Tobacco file through the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee in the European Parliament. It is estimated that 1 in 5 cigarettes smoked in Ireland is illicit. Therefore I am trying to strengthen legislation to ensure that tobacco companies take more responsibility for the illegal trade and counterfeiting of their products.
Ms Anderson MEP continued,
“As Sinn Féin endeavour to fight against the power and devastation caused to citizens health by big tobacco, Unionist MPs are being wined and dined to the sum of £1,650 each, by JTI.
“This manufacturing company and several of its distributors have been implicated in serious instances of smuggling tobacco products. This has included recently smuggling products to buyers in Syria and Iran as well as diverting cigarettes from Russia into the European Union.
“Both MPs claim to have the electorate’s best interests at heart whilst accepting such payments, but I’m sure it would be more in line with their constituents interests if they spent less time accepting lavish gifts and more time working to protect the health of their communities from the ravages of tobacco products.”