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Carreras rejects Ferguson's warning

Published:Wednesday | March 11, 2015 | 3:00 AMChristopher Serju

Carreras Limited, which distributes the Craven 'A' and Matterhorn brands of cigarette, has rejected as impractical and draconian, the warning from Minister of Health Fenton Ferguson that the tobacco industry's and public-health interests are "irreconcilable".

The company declared that it would continue to defend its right to meaningful and fulsome engagement on issues affect the industry.

"We are particularly concerned that the minister has implied that Big Tobacco, as he calls it, is using nefarious methods to influence his parliamentary colleagues and other public officials. We find this comment very unfortunate, and it should be refuted strongly by his parliamentary colleagues," the company's management said in a release yesterday.

It was responding to The Gleaner's lead story on Monday in which the health minister warned that legislation was coming that would forbid any association between public officials and players in the tobacco industry.

"The (tobacco) industry's interests and public-health interests are just irreconcilable, and there are public officials, including politicians, who find it easy to be associated with the industry. By so doing, it sometimes creates conflicts," Ferguson told The Gleaner.

However, Carreras has spurned this argument, accusing the minister of attempting to usurp the parliamentary process.

"While the company understands the obligations that the Government of Jamaica has as it relates to the discharge of its responsibilities under the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, we wish to remind Minister Ferguson of his commitment to undertake full consultation with the Parliament, and to seek its positive or negative resolution of any further regulations, and not move to once again unilaterally make national policy," the company said.