Tory group tables direct marketing amendment to tobacco legislation

Conservative MPs are to begin a campaign to exempt direct marketing from the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill, which is reaching the final stages of its progress through the House of Commons.

Five MPs, including Conservative health spokesman Tim Loughton, want to allow direct marketing to anyone who says in writing that they are happy to receive communications from tobacco companies.

The amendment is one of 21 put forward by the MPs for debate during the standing committee stage of the bill, which takes place this week. It follows a Conservative objection to the bill last week (MW last week).

The move shows the depth of support for direct marketing in the tobacco industry, which has lobbied hard to exempt it from the bill.

In March, a similar amendment was put forward by Conservative peer Lord Naseby in the House of Lords (MW March 14). It was rejected. Last April, MPs tried to put forward the same amendment. Again it was rebuffed, but the bill failed to receive sufficient Parliamentary time.

The Department of Health estimates that UK tobacco companies spend £7m a year on direct marketing, although industry sources say the total could be up to £50m.

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