Ian Paisley

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Ian Paisley (Jr) has been the Democratic Unionist Party Member of British Parliament (MP) for North Antrim since 2010.
He succeeded his father, Ian Paisley (Sr), as Westminster MP for Antrim.

Relationship with the Tobacco Industry

“Regularly Briefed and Updated by JTI”

Until 2017, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) had a tobacco factory in County Antrim, Paisley’s constituency.
In October 2011, Paisley told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that:

“JTI is a major employer in my constituency and I am regularly briefed and updated by them”.1

In October 2014, the tobacco company announced that it would be shutting its factory, with the loss of 800 jobs.2
From 19 July 2016, Paisley served as the unpaid chair of a charitable trust set up by JTI to support job creation and skills development in the affected area.3
The majority of JTI factory workers were made redundant in 2016, with the factory shutting its doors in October 2017.2

Regularly Hosted Anti-Illicit Tobacco Events in Parliament

Paisley has regularly hosted events in Parliament on behalf of the tobacco industry, mainly JTI.
On 4 June 2019, he hosted a “Tackling Illegal Tobacco Sale” Reception in the Thames Pavillion, a venue at the House of Commons, on behalf of DoDs Parliamentary Communications Ltd.4 The DoDS Group has a history of working with JTI,4 not just in the UK. In November 2018 DoDs organised a roundtable debate in European Parliament, funded by JTI, on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.5
In 2018 Paisley hosted two events on behalf of the industry. In May he organised an afternoon tea on behalf of JTI in the Thames Pavilion, branded “Taking a Stand Against the Illegal Tobacco Trade”.6 In September, he hosted a reception for the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum.4
In July 2017, Paisley and fellow MPs David Morris and Stephen Hepburn hosted an event on behalf of JTI in a House of Commons Dining Room.78 The MP told The Guardian that it was “necessary to work with a difficult industry” to deal with the problem of illicit tobacco trade in the UK.7
Paisley added:

“The reception I hosted was promoting the problem of illicit trade and identifying that much more needs to be done and how much is lost to the exchequer. While everyone recognises there are issues to do with tobacco, it is very important that if people are going to buy a legal product, they must buy a legal one rather than a smuggled one or one that is fake or poses even more hazards. That’s why I think it was a worthwhile seminar to identify the extent of that problem”.7

In the past, JTI has been accused of being complicit in the illicit tobacco trade. For more information, go to JTI Involvement in Smuggling. A JTI spokesperson said of the event:

“The parliamentary event JTI held in July 2017 provided an opportunity for us to communicate the results of our mystery shop operation in London which found one in eight retailers selling illegal tobacco. We were also able to demonstrate how JTI works with national and local law enforcement to help prevent a crime which since 2000 has cost HMRC £43.5bn. We are strongly of the opinion that this type of engagement results in better and more informed debate about the issues surrounding illegal tobacco”.9

The reception was condemned by Labour’s health spokesperson, Justin Madders, who 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”.7
For information on other MPs who hosted events on behalf of the tobacco industry, see page on UK Politicians Hosting Tobacco Event at Parliament.

Accepted Rugby World Cup Tickets from JTI

In October 2015, Paisley accepted tickets to the Rugby World Cup and associated hospitality from JTI, worth £1,650.10
For more information on the tobacco industry tactic to offer hospitality to those who could influence the passage of tobacco laws:

Invited Speaker at Tobacco Industry Event: Criticised Tobacco Regulation

In 2016, Paisley attended the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum because he “was asked to give an perspective on how regulations actively impact very directly on real people”.11
In an interview with EU Reporter, filmed at the event, Paisley blamed the closure of the JTI factory in his constituency to tobacco regulations, claiming that “Good regulation will lead to job security, bad regulation will have unintended consequences of increased smuggling in the tobacco industry and we will see legitimate jobs being lost”.11
Calling himself a “health advocate”, Paisley further claimed that “not one single person has stopped smoking as a result of the tobacco directive from Europe, and not one single person will stop smoking because of the font size on a cigarette pack”. Paisley did not offer evidence to support his claims.

Opposed Tobacco Control Measures in the UK

Against Plain Packaging

Paisley actively opposed the introduction of plain tobacco packaging in the United Kingdom, from as early as 2012 when he organised a letter to then Health Secretary Andrew Lansley signed by 50 MPs. He was behind a similar campaign in 2013 when he handed over a letter to then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt signed by 73 MPs.
For more details on Paisley’s anti-plain packaging activities:

TobaccoTactics Resources

Relevant link

Parliamentary biography of Ian Paisley.

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  1. House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Fuel laundering and smuggling in Northern Ireland. Third Report of Session 2010-12. Evidence: Proceedings Wednesday 19 October 2011
  2. abJ. Campbell, JTI tobacco factory closure delayed for five months, BBC News, 25 April 2017, accessed January 2018
  3. The Register of Members’ Financial Interests As At 11 December 2017, UK Parliament website, 11 December 2017, accessed January 2018
  4. abcHouse of Commons, House of Commons Events and Function Booking Data, 01 August 2018 to 31 July 2018, parliament.uk, accessed November 2019
  5. Japan Tobacco International, Vaping regulation in the EU: DODS Parliament Magazine event organized with the support of JTI, JTI website, 6 November 2018, accessed November 2019
  6. House of Commons, House of Commons Events and Function Booking Data, 01 August 2017 to 31 July 2018, parliament.uk, accessed September 2019
  7. abcdR. Mason, Tory and DUP MPs criticised for ‘wining and dining’ tobacco firms, The Guardian, 29 December 2017, accessed August 2018
  8. JTI, JTI calls on government to take a stand against illegal tobacco, www.politicshome.com, 10 July 2017, accessed August 2018
  9. Ian Paisley defends holding reception for tobacco company JTI, Belfast Telegraph, 30 December 2017, accessed November 2019
  10. The Register of Members’ Financial Interests As At 16th May 2016, UK Parliament website, 16 May 2016, accessed January 2018
  11. abEU Reporter, Tobacco: Ian Paisley says tobacco regulation ineffective GTNF2016, Youtube.com, published on 28 September 2016, accessed November 2019