Craig Mackinlay

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Craig Mackinlay is a British Conservative Party (pre-2005 the UK Independence Party) politician, who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for South Thanet from 2015.
The MP has been an advocate for small retailers and has raised concerns about the potential negative impact of illicit tobacco trade on retailers’ businesses.
Mackinley sits on the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Illicit Trade.

Relationship with the Tobacco Industry

Hosted Roundtable for the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association

Image 1. Craig Mackinley tweeted about the parliamentary event on tobacco smuggling he hosted for the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, 10 October 2016

In September 2016 Mackinlay wrote on his website that he was “working with the Tobacco Manufacturer’s Association (tma) to plan how best to make small shop owners’ voices heard”.1 The TMA is the trade association for tobacco companies that operate in the United Kingdom.
One month later, Mackinlay hosted a roundtable in Parliament for the launch of the TMA’s Illicit Trade Survey (see Image 1).23
Mackinlay said of the event:3

“I have for a couple of years, been highlighting the issue of the illicit tobacco market and the adverse impact it has on small business owners such as my local newsagents, the exchequer £2.5bn in 2016 and additionally the serious health effects of illicit tobacco. The purpose of the event was to raise this little-known issue in parliament”.

He added:

“I held a Westminster Hall debate on small shops regulation that raised the issue last year. Illicit tobacco market has been harming their trade through loss of football and the seemingly open selling through social media sites/ boot fairs/ tobacco houses”.

Labour’s health spokesperson Justin Madders condemned the event, and said: “Members of parliament ought to be setting a lead on public health issues and, with such a well-established link between tobacco and poor health, it seems incongruous and unsettling for so many tobacco companies to be hosting events in parliament”.3
Counter to Mackinlay’s willingness to work with the tobacco industry to combat the illicit tobacco trade, the tobacco industry has previously been found complicit in tobacco smuggling. More details here:

Accepted Tobacco Hospitality

In October 2017, Mackinlay (with fellow MPs Nigel Evans and Gareth Johnson) attended a drinks party jointly hosted by tobacco industry front group Forest and the TMA, at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.4
For more information on the tobacco industry tactic to give gifts and hospitality to those who could influence the passage of tobacco laws, with the aim to weaken or prevent advances in tobacco control, go to Tobacco Industry Hospitality for UK Politicians.

Linked to the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance

In August 2016 Mackinlay met with the spokesperson of the British Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance (TRA), Hitesh Pandya, and was “reminded of just how prevalent illicit and counterfeit tobacco is in my constituency and nationwide”.5 The TRA is a tobacco industry funded campaign group.
In an article in the AsianTrader that reported on the meeting, Mackinlay was quoted as saying: “Too often in the past, successive Governments have been all too happy to put-up duty on cigarettes without tackling the inevitable consequences”.5 He added: “If the new Government does opt to maintain the tobacco escalator then it must up the fight against criminal illicit and counterfeit tobacco sellers, importers and manufacturers”.

Parliamentary Questions About Tobacco Control

Mackinley has regularly asked parliamentary questions about tobacco control measures. For example, in 2017 the MP submitted numerous questions on tobacco tax, including:

  • What assessment had been made of the effect of tobacco tax increases on the purchase of non-UK duty paid tobacco in each of the last five years?6
  • When was the Chancellor of the Exchequer going to publish the results of the consultation on the tax treatment of heated tobacco products?7
  • What estimate had been made of the point of income maximisation on tobacco excise; and what steps are taken in the event that point has been reached?8
  • Has the amount of revenue accruing to the public purse from tobacco taxation matched the forecasts set out for those revenues by the Office of Budget Responsibility?8
  • What estimate had been made of lost business to convenience stores and lost revenue to the Exchequer due to the illicit tobacco trade?8

Earlier in the year, in February, Mackinlay asked the Secretary of State for Health whether there had been an assessment of the impact of tobacco control measures on small retailers.9
Contrary to the tobacco industry argument that small retailers need tobacco sales to survive, a joint 2016 study by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the National Centre for Addiction at King’s College London found that corner shops make much less profit on tobacco (on average 6.6%) than on other products (on average 24.1%).10

TobaccoTactics Resources

Relevant link

Parliamentary biography of Craig Mackinlay.

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  1. C. Mackinlay, Small shops, 2016, accessed January 2018
  2. C. Mackinlay (@cmackinlay), Tweet: “Bringing tobacco from abroad and selling it on is a criminal offence. Smuggling harms local communities, national security and public health”, Twitter, 10 October 2016, 5:57 PM
  3. abcR. Mason, Tory and DUP MPs criticised for ‘wining and dining’ tobacco firms, The Guardian, 29 December 2017, accessed January 2018
  4. S. Clark, Morning after the night before, Taking Liberties blog, 5 October 2017, accessed January 2018
  5. abAsianTrader, MP and TRA work together to tackle illicit tobacco, 9 August 2016, accessed January 2018
  6. Action on Smoking and Health, ASH Daily News 22 November 2017, ASH website, 22 November 2017, accessed January 2018
  7. Tobacco: Excise Duties: Written question -114550, UK Parliament website, 23 November 2017, accessed January 2018
  8. abcWritten questions and answers for the 2017-2019 session: Craig Mackinlay, UK Parliament website, undated, accessed January 2018
  9. Tobacco: Retail Trade: Written question-63995, UK Parliament website, 27 February 2017, accessed January 2018
  10. Action on Smoking and Health, ASH Research shows corner shops don’t need tobacco to be profitable, ASH website, 18 October 2016, accessed January 2018