Tobacco Workers’ Alliance

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The Tobacco Workers’ Alliance (TWA) was a tobacco industry funded lobbying group that operated between 1997 and 2006.

An Industry Front Group

The TWA claimed to campaign for the jobs of workers in the UK tobacco industry, but was funded by the tobacco industry supported Tobacco Manufacturers' Association (TMA), a fact it sometimes failed to disclose.[1] For instance, in evidence to the Commons Treasury Select Committee in November 2004, the TWA said it was “a coalition of workers in all the unions involved in the tobacco manufacturing industry, comprising members from Amicus, Transport and General Workers Union and the GMB Union”, but failed to disclose its TMA support.[2]

Accounts show that the TMA spent almost £50,000 on the TWA in 2000 and was forecasting a spend of £60,000 by the end of that financial year.[3]

Close Collaboration with the TMA

TWA’s strategy appears to have been influenced by tobacco industry executives via the TMA. Undated minutes of a TMA meeting state that the “TWA could have a wonderful voice on counterfeit.” This is attributed to “LB”, who appears to be Liz Buckingham, the former Group Communications Manager for Imperial Tobacco.[4]

By 2000, it was working closely with the TMA. A memo from the TMA to Imperial Tobacco, Gallaher, Rothmans and British American Tobacco executives in June 2000 forwarded a “request from… the TWA” for “company support for a proposed ‘export ban’ lobby” at a meeting of EU health ministers. The TMA described it as an “important initiative".[5]

The minutes of a TMA Campaign Group Meeting on 11 January 2001 show that the TWA continued to keep in close contact with the TMA. Under the heading "Campaign groups", a "report on TWA Activities" written by Arthur Butler said: “During the past two months the TWA has carried out its biggest, most successful lobby of Parliament, has lobbied effectively in Strasburg and has achieved its widest ever coverage in the media”. It also revealed details of the TWA’s planned activities for the future. [6]

Set up to Oppose UK Tobacco Advertising Ban

Minutes from a TMA meeting reveal that “the TWA was originally set up to oppose the New Labour Government's proposal to ban tobacco advertising and sponsorship”.[6]

Lobbied against the 2001 EU Tobacco Products Directive

The TWA played an important role in the transnational tobacco companies’ (TTCS) lobbying strategy against the 2001 EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), [7] with the TWA being described by the TMA as “unrelenting in their [sic] efforts” to lobby against the Directive.[8] These “efforts” focussed on the UK government and the EU[9] and included meetings with Members of European Parliament (MEPs) [8] as well as organising events to give a platform to their pro-tobacco arguments.[9] For example, in October 2000 TWA hosted a reception for 30 MEPs, “several of whom there publicly pledged support for their [TWA] campaign, including North-east Tory MEP Martin Callanan and German MEP Rainer Wieland, a leading member of the Christin Democratic Union”.[9]

Trade unions played an important role in the TTCs’ third party tactic against the 2001 TPD, and were instrumental in creating pro-tobacco political support at Member State level.

Echoed Industry’s Arguments on Illicit Trade

In a memo to the Treasury Select Committee, the TWA called on the Government to “take immediate steps to protect British tobacco manufacturing jobs by tackling the threat posed by bootlegged tobacco” and blamed “exorbitant taxation” – rather than the complicity of the companies – for the illegal trade. The tobacco industry was using the same argument.[2]

TWA’s Chair Now Responsible for Health Policy

The organisation appears to have stopped its campaigning activities in 2006.[10] The TWA was chaired by Brenda Warrington, who worked for the trade union Amicus.[11] Warrington is now a Labour member of the cabinet of Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, with responsibility for health.[12]

TobaccoTactics Resources

Notes

  1. Tobacco Workers’ Alliance, Government Ministers' Commitment to Tobacco Jobs, 11 June 1998, accessed 23 January 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 House of Commons website,Memorandum submitted by the Tobacco Workers' Alliance, November 2004, accessed 23 January 2012
  3. TMA,Statement to Accompany Account Submitted to TMA Board of Directors, 20 February 2001, accessed 23 January 2012
  4. Imperial Tobacco, Tobacco companies challenge EU product directive, 24 August 2001, accessed 23 January 2010
  5. TMA, Council of Health Ministers Meeting on Thursday, 29 June 2000, 21 June 2000, accessed 23 January 2012
  6. 6.0 6.1 A. Butler, TMA Campaign Group Meeting on 11th January 2001, 11 January 2001, accessed 23 January 2012
  7. S. Mandal et al, Block, amend, delay: tobacco industry efforts to influence the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive (2201/37/EC), June 2009, accessed November 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 Tobacco Manufacturer's Association Campaign Group Meeting, Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, British American Tobacco Collection, Bates nos. 325133029-30, accessed November 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 A Butler, TMA Campaign Committee: 15 November 2000 - Report on TWA Activities, Legacy Tobacco Documents Library British American Tobacco collection, Bates 325133095-325133097, accessed November 2014
  10. PR newswire, PR newswire list of TWA press releases, undated, accessed 23 January 2012
  11. BBC News website, ‘Cigarette factory jobs 'could go'’, 27 October 2005, accessed 23 January 2012
  12. Tameside council website, Brenda Warrington profile, undated, December 2014