Mystery shrouds failure of Dobson tobacco Bill

A Private Member’s Bill forcing tobacco companies to release confidential documents about their marketing strategies has been dropped after its proposer, former Health Secretary Frank Dobson, failed to attend a second reading of the Bill.

The Tobacco Disclosure Bill will not get another reading this session because of time pressures.

Calls to Dobson’s office to establish why he failed to attend were not returned.

The Bill was unveiled last July amid growing concern among MPs and health groups about the Government’s failure to ban tobacco advertising.

If passed, the Bill would have put confidential industry documents into the public domain. These documents outline tobacco companies’ work on product development, market research, advertising and sponsorship strategies.

Action on Smoking and Health public affairs manager John Connolly says: “We wanted the Bill to succeed and it’s a shame it didn’t. We hope it will be reintroduced at a later stage.”

The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association failed to return Marketing Week’s request for a comment.

Meanwhile, the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill – a Lords Private Member’s Bill, sponsored by Lord Clement-Jones – has reached committee stage in the House of Lords, and will be discussed in March. The committee stage will resolve any remaining concerns about the Bill before it goes to the Commons for its first reading.

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