Tobacco firms urge UK government to talk to them
LONDON, June 14 (Reuters) - UK tobacco firms on Wednesday gave a guarded welcome to a call by politicians for the industry to be independently regulated, but warned that little could be done if the government refused to talk to them.
In a damning report on the industry and health risks of smoking, the influential cross-party parliamentary Health Select Committee called on Britain's Labour government to create a Tobacco Regulatory Authority responsible for what it called ``deadly'' tobacco products.
Spokesmen for Gallaher Group Plc and British American Tobacco Plc, declaring that the industry was already regulated, condemned the report for urging the government to keep its distance from tobacco companies.
``There's all the difference between an objective regulator and one which becomes another vehicle for the anti-tobacco lobby,'' said BAT spokesman Michael Prideaux, who called the report ``thoughtful, but flawed''.
``Any regulations should be based on sound science. They will accomplish more if they talk to the people who know most about it,'' Prideaux told Reuters.
Gallaher spokesman Ian Birks said members of parliament had not set out the exact role of any potential regulator and added the industry's hands were tied while ministers refused to meet them.
``Dialogue has broken down between tobacco companies and this government,'' he said. ``We accept there needs to be a framework of regulation. If this report helps springboard us towards that I welcome it.''