“The tobacco industry is aggressive in sabotaging government efforts to strengthen tobacco control,” said Mary Assunta, PhD, Head of Global Research and Advocacy for the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control, a partner in the STOP network and lead author of the Index. “This report confirms that there is no room for complacency; the key to arresting industry interference lies in the hands of governments. They must use Article 5.3 which will empower them to do their utmost to stop the 8 million preventable tobacco-related deaths every year.”
Key trends include the industry aggressively seeking to create favorable conditions for new addictive products such as e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products (HTPs) and nicotine pouches:
- Tobacco companies successfully lobbied for the end of bans on e-cigarettes, HTPs and/or nicotine pouches in Egypt, Kenya and Uruguay. In Uruguay, the Ministry of Public Health used industry-friendly information provided by Philip Morris International (PMI) instead of information prepared by its own experts.
- Policymakers in Malaysia de-listed nicotine as a poison from the National Poison Act after Japan Tobacco International called for the Act to be amended.
- In Italy, a proposal for stronger regulation of e-cigarettes and HTPs was successfully opposed by policymakers who received funding from e-cigarette companies.
- The Philippines approved an industry-friendly e-cigarette law.
Amid growing alarm at e-cigarette waste and calls for cigarette filters to be banned as toxic, single-use plastics, the industry stepped up activities to hide its environmental harms:
- In at least 15 countries including Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Korea, Malaysia, Sweden, Switzerland and Uruguay, industry-led cigarette butt litter cleanups secured the endorsement of governments and public institutions.
- In Costa Rica, a PMI-sponsored activity coincided with the Legislative Assembly’s debate on a bill to declare cigarette butts as special waste and place the responsibility for their disposal on the manufacturer or importer.
- Local or national governments in 10 countries including Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Madagascar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zambia entered into partnerships with or endorsed industry-sponsored tree planting programs.
Beyond national policymaking, the industry targeted delegations to global treaty discussions, specifically the 9th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
“The industry’s ‘corporate social responsibility’ handouts to impress policymakers is a pittance compared to the cost of the harm it causes, what governments could be collecting in tax revenues and the tens of billions of dollars in profits enjoyed by global tobacco companies,” concluded Assunta. “Governments must stop believing the industry’s spin and hold it accountable instead.”
The Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index is available at exposetobacco.org/global-index/.
Please contact the STOP press office for more information or to speak to a STOP spokesperson.