The Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index shows how well governments are protecting public health policies from industry meddling.

The industry works relentlessly to delay and defeat tobacco control efforts around the world so that it can protect its profits. Globally, efforts to keep the industry out of health policy are progressing slowly and much work remains to be done.

These seven indicators highlight stories of government resistance and industry interference.

Policy Development

When the tobacco industry interferes with government efforts to develop tobacco control policies.

Successful Resistance

Blocking Endorsements

The U.K. government does not accept assistance from or endorse policies drafted by the tobacco industry when setting or implementing public health policies related to tobacco control.

Industry Interference

Industry Participation in Policy Development

In Japan, the existence of the Tobacco Business Act and the association between Japan Tobacco (JT), the government (through 33% ownership) and policy makers enables JT to participate in policy development, thereby weakening policies such as smoke-free public spaces.

"Corporate Social Responsibility" (CSR) Activity

The tobacco industry spends millions of dollars on so-called corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities each year.

Successful Resistance

Banning CSR Activities

Iran’s laws ban tobacco-related corporate social responsibility activities and there are no instances of any CSR activities.

Industry Interference

Accepting Donations

In Jordan, four major tobacco companies have supported many initiatives by giving donations, supporting training activities or providing funding for many programs. According to the Department of Statistics, the tobacco industry spent 273,000 JOD on donations and sponsorships in 2015.

Benefits to the Tobacco Industry

The tobacco industry enjoys many types of benefits. Direct benefits include privileges, incentives, tax exemptions or endorsements to encourage their business.

Successful Resistance

Avoid Incentivizing the Industry

Sri Lanka is the only country surveyed that does not provide duty-free status for tobacco to international travelers arriving in the country.

Industry Interference

Endorsing Tobacco Business

Lebanon’s state-owned enterprise, Regie, signed an agreement with PMI to begin manufacturing PMI’s cigarette brands. A similar agreement was forged with BAT to produce Kent and Viceroy in Lebanon. High-ranking government officials were present at the signing ceremonies indicating their endorsement of increasing the tobacco business in Lebanon.

Government Interaction with the Industry

Unnecessary interactions occur when top-level government officials attend social functions hosted by tobacco companies or when the government accepts offers of assistance or enters into partnerships with the tobacco industry.

Successful Resistance

Avoid Engagement with the Tobacco Industry

In Uruguay, senior government officials do not meet with tobacco companies. The government only contacts the tobacco industry when strictly necessary and in the presence of civil society representatives.

Industry Interference

Presenting Frivolous Awards

In Malaysia, the Director of Royal Customs in Johor, Dato’ Mohammad Hamiddan bin Maryani, officiated the opening ceremony of BAT’s new factory in the state of Johor. The Managing Director of BAT was also present.


Lack of transparency in government interactions makes many vulnerable to influence from the tobacco industry.

Successful Resistance

Disclose Meetings with the Industry

Health Canada discloses meetings with the tobacco industry including providing the date, subject matter, attendees and outcomes. Details are published on a website.

Industry Interference

Collaborating with the Industry

In India, an industry-related body, Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy was formed to counter illicit trade and smuggling of tobacco. While headed by the Senior Vice President of an Indian tobacco company, the Indian government has collaborated with CASCADE to fight against illicit trade.

Conflicts of Interest

Senior government officials working for the industry present a conflict of interest.

Successful Resistance

Avoid Conflicts of Interest

France has instilled legislation to prevent former ministers, former presidents of local councils as well as former members of independent administrative or public authorities from entering the private sector.

Industry Interference

Retired Government Officials Join the Tobacco Industry

In Japan, when senior finance officials retire from government service, they move to top leadership positions in Japan Tobacco (JT). For example, the current Chairman of JT started his career in the Ministry of Finance and was promoted as Special Advisor to the Cabinet (2012 – April 2014). He was then appointed as Chair of Japan Tobacco in June 2014.

Preventing Influence

Governments can proactively take several preventive measures to protect their officials from being exposed to interference.

Successful Resistance

Issuing a Code of Conduct

In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) prohibits interactions with the tobacco industry unless strictly necessary for its effective regulation. Agencies are expected to submit reports on interactions with the tobacco industry, any preferential treatment given and any offer of donation to public officials or employees. Heads of agencies must inform officials and staff of the policies against tobacco industry interference and amend their respective codes of conduct as provided by the DOH.

Industry Interference

Failure to Disclose Interactions

In Tanzania, there is no requirement to disclose interactions between the government and the tobacco industry. The government does not require the tobacco industry to submit information on tobacco production, manufacture, market share, marketing expenditures, revenues, lobbying, philanthropy and political contributions.

The Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index revealed how well governments have fought to protect their public health policies.

Learn more about how countries were evaluated.

Governments already have the power to stop tobacco industry interference.

Actions governments can take:

1 of 9

Create awareness on Article 5.3

A whole-of-government approach is vital to effectively counter tobacco industry interference. More needs to be done to increase awareness of the obligation to protect tobacco control among the non-health sector to stop industry influence in thwarting and delaying policy development. Efforts to increase awareness should also include parliamentarians and all local government officials.

2 of 9

Stop unnecessary interactions

Interactions must be strictly limited to only those necessary for the purposes of controlling, regulating and supervising the tobacco industry. This will halt unnecessary interactions through awards ceremonies.

3 of 9

Firewall government officials

Adopting a Code of Conduct or guidelines for all government officials will firewall the bureaucracy so that public health policy is free from interference. To be more effective, the code must apply to the whole government rather than just the Department/Ministry of Health.

4 of 9

Ensure transparency

Greater transparency about government interactions with the tobacco industry will reduce opportunities for interference. All meetings with industry representatives and their outcomes must be recorded and made publicly available.

5 of 9

Denormalize the tobacco industry's "socially responsible" activities

A ban on tobacco-related Corporate Social Responsibility activities can reduce opportunities for top level officials to participate and endorse industry activities.

6 of 9

Stop benefits enjoyed by the tobacco industry

Departments/ministries of health must work more closely with non-health departments to stop tax exemptions, incentives or any other privileges offered to tobacco companies.

7 of 9

Treat state-owned tobacco enterprises like any other tobacco business

State-owned enterprises should be treated like any other tobacco business as they protect their tobacco business interests and can create conflicts of interest within the government, preventing the adoption of stringent tobacco control measures. Governments should ensure state-owned enterprises are not given any incentives or privileges to conduct their business.

8 of 9

Require information on production, marketing and revenue from the tobacco industry

Governments should require tobacco companies to regularly provide information in a transparent and accurate manner about:
• production
• market share
• marketing expenditures
• revenues
• expenditure on research and philanthropy
and any other activity. Best practice would be to ban the tobacco industry from providing any contributions including political contributions, gifts, technical advice, scholarships or study visits.

9 of 9

Require disclosure

Require a registry of lobbyists and the disclosure of tobacco industry lobbying expenditure. The registry should also have a record of the representatives of the tobacco industry.