Case study: Tobacco lobbying and Rishi Sunak

Sir Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England, has said "The overwhelming majority of the medical profession, the nursing profession, and all the health charities support this".

He described claims from the tobacco industry that the ban would not work as "bogus".

Speaking to the BBC, Sir Chris said: "As a doctor, I've seen many people in hospital desperate to stop smoking because it's killing them and yet they can not - their choice has been removed."

In October 2023  the Prime Minister described his plan to phase out the sale of cigarettes as the “biggest public health intervention in a generation”. 


The tobacco industry has threatened the U.K. government with legal action and wined and dined right-wing members of Parliament in an attempt to sabotage a law proposed to stop future generations from ever smoking. 

Over seven months, tobacco companies made multiple legal threats, lobbied politicians and government departments, submitted arguments against the smoking ban, and courted Tory MPs,  who suggested amendments to the legislation or voted against it, an investigation by The Examination and the Guardian has found.

Industry-funded think tanks and campaign groups also argued vehemently against the ban in the media and in responses to the government’s consultation over the proposed law, which were obtained by The Examination.

The scale of back-channel influence demonstrates the Government's difficulties in getting an outright ban into legislation for England before the next election.

The laws on health are devolved, but the Welsh Government has already said it would adopt the policy. At the same time, Scotland has indicated it is broadly sympathetic to bringing in a similar ban.