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‘Ban tobacco companies from Labour conference’, urges Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham

From Owen Bennett of the Daily Express:

Tobacco giants should be banned from advertising at the the Labour Party conference, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has urged after one company bought space at this year’s event.

Mr Burnham is angry the party has taken money from cigarette firm Philip Morris, which has a stand in the exhibition in Brighton.

Another has been sold to the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance, a pressure group which opposes plans for plain packaging – a policy the Labour front bench supports.

Mr Burnham said: “I made it clear that I would like to see conference tobacco-free, that’s my position.

“My request to the party is to make conference tobacco-free.”

Labour has repeatedly accused the Tories of “bringing big tobacco to the heart of Downing Street” by hiring lobbyist Lynton Crosby as a key election adviser.

Mr Crosby, whose lobbying firm is reported to have worked on behalf of Philip Morris, was brought in shortly before the Government shelved plans to standardise packets.

He denies having “any conversation or discussion” with Prime Minister David Cameron on the issue.

Shadow public health minister Diane Abbott disclosed the row at a fringe meeting yesterday.

“The health team, led by Andy Burnham, did make representations to the party about this and we were not able to get that changed,” she said.

“The health team is not happy about that.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband condemned the influence of the tobacco industry on the Government in his introduction to the annual report of the party’s National Executive Council (NEC), which was debated today at the conference.

“Britain’s children don’t have corporate lobbyists looking after their interests, like the big tobacco companies do.”

Labour said that allowing any particular organisation to exhibit at the conference in no way meant the party endorsed its views.

“The Labour Party exhibition includes stands from a wide range of charities, companies and organisations putting forward their points of view,” a spokesman said.

“This does not mean the Labour Party supports the view put forward by the exhibitor.”

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