Lobbying is now more than ever a reality when it comes to regulatory decision-making, and tobacco companies go to great lengths to influence new laws.
Since the January 2016 healthcare modernisation laws, big tobacco companies are legally obliged to publish their lobbying expense records for the Ministry of Heath.
Last year, 25 companies in the tobacco and e-cigarette sector declared a number of these expenses. The total amount was 1 256 466 Euros.
JTI, controlling group behind Camel and Winston, spent a total of 6 629 euros in gifts for 53 Congressmen. In the same report were the names of the happy recipients. These include Laurent Wauquiez, Bernard Accoyer, Eric Woerth, and François Baroin.
Are congressmen being rewarded for pro-tobacco decisions?
These gifts did not only come in the form of Cigars… While a number received Champagne at almost 50 euro a bottle, for others the rewards seemed to scale up. For example, VIP booth tickets to Roland-Garros tennis tournament, or even movie premières at 165 euros a seat. Paltry amounts compared to those received by politicians such as Marie-Christine Dalloz and Jean-François Mancel, totalling 379 euros and 529 euros respectively. Indeed, these congressmen have for years been pushing amendments in favour of tobacco and vaping products.
Thankfully, a number of them were quoted saying they refused such gifts. Eric Ciotti, for example, allegedly received a bottle of Champagne only to send it back to Japan Tobacco. The cigarette manufacturer admitted to having put Ciotti’s name on the list by mistake, alongside that of François Patriat.
Given the recently voted laws on ethics in politics, it seems evident that members of the political establishment should be obligated to declare any gifts received. Unfortunately, government ethics expert Agnès Roblot-Troizier had no further comments on this topic.