Industry Interference

As the World Health Organization's director-general noted in her keynote address at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in 2012, Big Tobacco’s deadly influence is rampant. It knows no borders. But its impact is being felt most in the Global South.

"The tobacco industry has changed its face and its tactics. The wolf is no longer in sheep’s clothing, and its teeth are bared. Tactics aimed at undermining anti-tobacco campaigns, and subverting the Framework Convention, are no longer covert or cloaked by an image of corporate social responsibility. They are out in the open and they are extremely aggressive." Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization

The three largest global tobacco corporations – Philip Morris International (PMI), British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco (JT) – had combined revenues of US$210 billion in 2010. That’s greater than the combined GDPs of the following countries in which they operate: Jordan, Panama, Kenya, Cambodia, Mozambique, Bolivia, Mali, Liechtenstein, Estonia, and Ghana.

The immense financial power, combined with the political influence the industry wields pose the greatest threat to the success of the global tobacco treaty (officially known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)) and its ability to save lives. Tobacco corporations are attempting to weaken, delay and defeat tobacco control legislation around the world.

Industry Interference Tactics Include:

  • Litigation, where costly lawsuits intimidate governments and squander resources.
  • Government "partnerships," including promoting voluntary regulation, drafting and distributing tobacco-friendly sample legislation, gaining favor by bankrolling government health initiatives on other issues, and providing funds directly to government regulatory bodies.
  • Subverting bans on advertising and marketing through tactics such as sponsorship of concerts and sporting events, as well as the promotion of so-called "corporate social responsibility."
  • Supporting front groups like the International Tobacco Growers’ Association.

That’s why we work with partners and allied organizations to expose industry interference and to ensure the global tobacco treaty is implemented.

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