In October, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted against proposals such as increasing the size of health warnings to cover 75 per cent of cigarette packets and banning ‘slim’ cigarettes.

Tobacco company Philip Morris International, the maker of Marlboro, reportedly employed 161 people to fight the TPD, spending $1.6 million wooing MEPs, with a third of them being met in person.

The Parliament’s failure to stand up to the lobbyists has been made more embarrassing by Australia’s recent decision to replace advertising on packs of cigarettes with ‘plain packaging’, showing gruesome images of the effects of long-term smoking.

With 70,000 Europeans dying every year from smoking-related diseases and a public outcry since the MEPs’ decision, the only clear winner here is the multi-million dollar tobacco industry.

Lydia James