Knesset Committee: Lobbyists can’t help fight disease and also promote tobacco

Alalouf criticized pro-health organizations and tobacco companies for not appearing at the meeting.

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December 20, 2016 17:51
2 minute read.
Smoking

Smoking. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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Lobbying groups that represent health funds, the Israel Medical Association and other pro-health groups have some unhealthful clients, such as tobacco companies, Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee Chairman MK Eli Alalouf charged on Monday.

“With one hand they fight for the population’s health and with the other they promote poison that can kill them,” he said. Alalouf promised to advance a bill that would prohibit health organizations from being represented by lobbying and public relations companies that also promote products and activities that are harmful to health.

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“It is absurd and cynical,” he said at a committee meeting. Alalouf also criticized pro-health organizations and tobacco companies for not appearing at the meeting. “Health bodies complain to us that they lack money, but we know how much diseases caused by smoking cost to treat.”

Former health minister, MK Yael German (Yesh Atid) added, “How is it possible to represent two clients that have completely opposite agendas? There must be complete transparency, including about vested interests. In Britain, the association of pharmaceutical companies dismissed a lobbying company that also represented a tobacco company.”

Alalouf said he would personally contact all heads of relevant companies and demand that they stop such connections.

Shabi Gatenu of the Association for Advanced Democracy said he had “no expectations from lobbyists, but I do have expectations from pro-health organizations. We told them about what we learned a month ago, but they tried to avoid us and continue to be represented by those same lobbyists.”

But Erez Gilhar of the Policy lobbyist organization who represents both pro-health and anti-health bodies said, “All of my clients are well-known and transparent. I am not a member of the central committee of any party and am not politically active. The one who decide what is a conflict of interest is the [Treasury official] responsible for business monopolies. Sometimes the interests are even identical. In my work, there is no conflict of interest.”



MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) commented, “We must protect the interests of organizations loyal to health from the advice of a company that may get money from an outside interest in order to influence them.”

Yael Shiloni, CEO of Gilat Lobbying, reminded those present that “smoking is legal.”

Meretz MK Michal Rozin countered, “Prostitution is also legal, and we are battling against this phenomenon with all our strength.”

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