Tobias Ghersetti used to work for public relations firm Bell Pottinger.
Relationship with the Tobacco Industry
In 2011, when the impact assessment was being carried out on the revision of EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), Bell Pottinger tried to secure Imperial Tobacco access to senior EU officials. One of its lobbying targets was the Commission’s DG Trade, which oversees the implementation of the EU’s common trade policy.
In October 2011, Ghersetti emailed a senior official at DG Trade to share Imperial Tobacco’s concerns about the revision of the TPD; in particular about the impact assessment process (i.e. not taking sufficiently into account the results of the Public Consultation), the introduction of Plain Packaging, and the proposed ban on certain ingredients.
A copy of this email correspondence can be accessed here.
Ghersetti wrote: “it is Imperial Tobacco's concern that a number of actions suggested thus far by DG SANCO in the review of the EU TPD do not sufficiently take into consideration the concerns and wishes of the European citizens such as expressed in the recently undertaken Public Consultation", and that "DG SANCO have chosen to gloss over the results of this consultation and pursue an approach to the TPD which has focused on increased regulation".
Ghersetti also challenged proposals to introduce plain packaging regulations, suggesting that its introduction would result "in an increase in illicit trade and counterfeiting of tobacco products, leading to the potential diffusion of substandard unchecked products on European markets".
In relation to the proposed ban of certain ingredients, Ghersetti argued that the ban was “scientifically unfounded” and would “endanger the jobs of tens of thousands [of] citizens across the European Union who depend on tobacco farming and processing as a source of occupation and livelihood.”
- The revision of the 2014 European tobacco products directive: an analysis of the tobacco industry’s attempts to ‘break the health silo’, S. Peeters, H. Costa, D. Stuckler, M. McKee, A.B. Gilmore, 2016, Tobacco Control; 25:108-117
- Quantifying the influence of tobacco industry on EU governance: automated content analysis of the EU Tobacco Products Directive, H. Costa, A.B. Gilmore, S. Peeters, M. McKee, D. Stuckler, 2014, Tobacco Control; 23:473-478
- T. Ghersetti, Email from Ghersetti to F. Perreau de Pinnick, dated 7 October 2011 5:14PM, subject: Imperial Tobacco meeting with officials in DG Trade. Email released under Freedom of Information legislation.