In 2010, Edith Schippers was appointed Minister for Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport (Public Health and Sport) in the Netherlands. Her first act as a member of the Dutch government was to reverse the smoking ban in pubs, which had just been implemented.
In early November 2011 Schippers came under pressure from MPs, doctors, and anti-smoking groups to clarify her contacts with the tobacco industry after a critical television documentary entitled Minister of Tobacco.
The documentary programme Zembla featured camera interviews with tobacco industry lobbyists and pro-smoking campaigners, and quoted emails sent by Schippers. They concluded that since becoming an MP in 2003 Schippers has had “intensive” contact with the tobacco industry. When appointed, she told MPs that as health spokesperson for the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) she had spoken to the tobacco lobby maybe “two or three times".
Historical Link to the Tobacco Industry
Schippers' professional network provides an early link with the tobacco industry. She worked for the Dutch employers organisation VNO/NCW on health and social issues between 1997-2001, and on environmental planning until 2003. During the same period (1999-2005), Jacques Schraven was the director of this organisation. In the mid 1990s Schraven was involved in the British American Tobacco inspired "EU Better Regulation" coalition. As the head of the Legal Division of Shell International, he was one of the influential people to join the Forum for EU/US Legal-Economic Affairs.
- Edith Schippers, Minister for Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport, CV], accessed 28 September 2011
- Zembla, Minister van Tabak, VARA, 21 October 2011, accessed February 2012
- Anna Holligan, Dutch unease over cigarette lobbying, BBC News, 31 January 2012, The Hague, accessed February 2012
- Thomas Kosmo, Letter from the president of the Mentor Group to Jacques Schraven, 9 January 1994