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. Though there is some progress, this second annual report finds certain areas of interference remain problems across the globe.

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 Lobbyists

The Dutch government requires that all civil servants comply with the “Code of Conduct for Integrity in the State,” which includes a clause that encourages avoiding tobacco industry lobbyists and prohibits lobbying by former ministers for two years after leaving office. This protocol prevents undue influence from the industry and its representatives and helps promote transparency.

Industry Interference

Lobbying and Loopholes

In Colombia, Philip Morris International lobbied the Ministry of Finance to defeat a proposed tax increase. The Constitutional Court ruled the tax reform adopted through Law 1943 of 2018 was unconstitutional because of procedural defects. Although there were attempts by congressmen to increase taxes on tobacco products, the government was reluctant to introduce such amendments to the original bill. Consequently, there were no advances on this front.

"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

All tobacco-related CSR activities are banned in Iran and there are no instances of any CSR activities.

Industry Interference

Accepting Donations

In Pakistan, British American Tobacco (BAT) donated US $35,450 to the Prime Minister for a dam fund just one month before the government announced its updated budget.

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

Uruguay does not give any benefits to the government.

Industry Interference

Providing Tax Benefits

In Japan, tobacco company JTI’s popular cigarette brand is taxed at 63%, while its HTPs are taxed at a significantly lower rate of 14.9%.

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

Limiting and Recording Industry Engagement

New Zealand does not allow unnecessary interaction with the tobacco industry. Any interaction is restricted to only when strictly necessary. The Ministry of Health records and makes public meetings with the tobacco industry. The meetings and purpose are recorded. Minutes of advisory meetings with members who have tobacco industry ties have been published.

Industry Interference

Presenting Frivolous Awards

Trivial awards given to the tobacco industry facilitates unnecessary interaction. The Jordanian Ministry of Environment awarded JTI the “Environmental Stewardship Award” for the usage of solar steam generation in its factory. This award facilitated public officials visiting the factory and interacting with JTI executives, which was promoted in the press and on social media.

Transparency

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

Successful Resistance

Disclose Meetings with the Industry

France, at the executive level, requires its ministers to report weekly on all meetings, including those with the tobacco industry. There are also specific rules concerning the transparency of lobbying activities of the tobacco industry and its representatives, which require submitting an annual report to the health minister of expenses related to activities of influence or representation of interests of manufacturers, importers and distributors of tobacco products.

Industry Interference

Collaborating with the Industry

The Mozambican Ministry of Labour Employment and Social Security signed a three-year MOU to receive US $1.2 million in grants from the tobacco industry-funded Elimination of Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation (ECLT) to address child labor in tobacco-growing rural areas. ECLT is an international NGO that is fully funded by tobacco companies (BAT, PMI, JTI, Imperial Tobacco and others).

Conflicts of Interest

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

Successful Resistance

Avoid Conflicts of Interest

Myanmar has banned all political contributions from corporations, including the tobacco industry.

Industry Interference

Retired Government Officials Join the Tobacco Industry

José María Aznar, Spanish Prime Minister from 1996-2004, has been a lobbyist and consultant for PMI in Latin America since 2018.

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

Brunei Darussalam adopted a code of conduct issued by the Prime Minister’s Office and applicable to all civil servants that prohibits unnecessary interactions with the tobacco industry or its representatives, requires transparency in any necessary (regulatory) interaction with the tobacco industry and rejects partnerships with and funding or sponsorship from the tobacco industry.

Industry Interference

Inviting Tobacco into Policy

Kazakhstan has neglected to firewall its tobacco control efforts and has been vulnerable to high levels of industry interference. An Entrepreneurial Code ensures participation of private entities in rule-making, providing an opportunity for the tobacco industry to influence policy decisions on tobacco control.

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.

Industry Interference is the Greatest Obstacle to Tobacco Control

WATCH: The more influence the industry has, the more difficult it is for governments to protect their people and economies

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.