THE SNP has been criticised after it emerged that tobacco companies had paid thousands of pounds to attend their party conference.

Despite the Scottish Government’s tough stance on smoking, cigarette makers Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Imperial were present after buying "business day" passes advertised at £1,750 each.

Scottish Labour MSP, Neil Findlay, said: "The SNP appear to employ a revolving door between their government and corporate lobbyists.

"If they aren't handing out conference passes to tobacco merchants for almost £2,000, they are inviting big business bosses to Bute House for unminuted discussions about government policy over dinner.

"The SNP are now Scotland's establishment party that do everything to ensure our society continues to work for the few, not the many.”

Nicola Sturgeon’s party at Holyrood has consistently backed measures to tackle smoking and control tobacco. In opposition, the party supported the UK-wide prohibition on tobacco advertising and its MSPs were also in favour of the smoking ban in public places.

In Government, the Nationalists banned over-the-counter cigarette displays and tobacco vending machines, backed the the plain packaging of products and set a target of creating a “tobacco free generation” by 2034.

However, the SNP is facing criticism over the presence of tobacco giants at its conference at Glasgow’s SEC last week.

According to the event’s commercial brochure, organisations could attend one of the days by purchasing a pass for “business day”, which had a £1,750 price tag.

The blurb stated: “The day starts with a business breakfast and includes panel discussions and Q&A, lunch with a high-profile guest, and culminating with networking at a drinks reception.

Business Day offers the opportunity to meet SNP policy-makers in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.”

One of the companies with a pass was the multi-billion JTI, which is responsible for brands including Benson & Hedges, Camel, Silk Cut, Sobranie and Winston. Two of the firm's employees were present.

Also there was a representative from British multinational Imperial, which is known for products such as as Davidoff, West, Gauloises and Embassy.

The tobacco industry figures, through their business passes, were entitled to attend a private SNP conference dinner last Sunday, but they did not take their places.

A spokesperson for JTI said: “Two representatives from JTI attended the SNP conference business day on Monday 8th October, however they did not attend the business dinner on the Sunday evening.Their tickets were purchased online via the SNP website and we will, of course, register our conversations as required in Scotland’s Lobbying Register.”

A spokesman for Imperial confirmed a company representative attended “business day”, adding: “Meetings were focused on the positive role vaping can play in helping to meet the Scottish Government’s tobacco-free objectives.”

The SNP offered a range of other commercial opportunities, including charging £15,500 to sponsor the Westminster reception, £7,500 for the local government event, and £18,500 for the media meet-and-greet. Sponsoring business day was priced at £17,000.

Branding was also offered: the party wanted £15,500 for the conference lanyards; £20,000 for the exhibition hall carpet; £14,000 for the conference bags; £11,000 for the “media zone”; and £2,000 for the creche.

According to the same document, a double page spread in the conference handbook cost £4,340 and an advert on the venue plasma screens came in at £5,000.

An SNP spokesperson said: “These firms attend all party conferences. It’s only Scotland that aims to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034. We’ve banned smoking in cars with children, banned the sale of tobacco and nicotine vapour products (NVPs) to under 18s, and we’re introducing statutory age-verification measures.”