One of Conservative MEP Dr Caroline Jackson's first acts on becoming chair of the European Parliament's environment, public health and consumer protection committee was to put European commissioner David Byrne on the ropes.

She refused to accept the new health and consumer protection commissioner's standard reply on subsidies to tobacco farmers, saying the abolition of subsidies would have a huge symbolic impact and release money for health education programmes.

Today, Dr Jackson argues that her committee does have a role in managing the discredited common agricultural policy, including the 'absurdity' of subsidising tobacco farming while discouraging smoking.

The Amsterdam treaty gave her committee a legal competence to investigate the health implications of all EU policies. Dr Jackson, who became chair of the committee following the European elections last summer, has a consistent record on tobacco.

Against the then Conservative line, she voted for the controversial tobacco advertising ban.

Stepping into the health committee chair's post after a long tenure by Scottish socialist Ken Collins, she has been a 'remarkable success' due to her fair approach to all parties, say political observers.

For the future, she says it is 'important' that 'political imperatives don't override public health ones' as new countries apply to join the EU.

Issues that she intends her committee to tackle in the future range from fuel quality and car exhaust emissions to genetically modified food and antibiotic resistance - favourites, too, of her erstwhile opponent Mr Byrne.