Resources Business of Tobacco

Big Tobacco Bullies The Global South. Trade Deals Are Their Biggest Weapon

July 17, 2017

This 2017 opinion article in The Guardian by Matthew Bramall and Paul Keenlyside illustrates how Big Tobacco has used trade and investment regulations to place their products in new markets. The authors cite a study by World Bank and WHO that found that liberalization of international tobacco trade in the 1990s led to a 5% increase in global cigarette consumption. The effect on low- and middle-income countries is especially problematic, they write, because “what big tobacco learned in the global north it has been replicating in the global south, where threats carry greater force against poorer countries that may lack the resources to see down a legal challenge.” Noting that oil, pharmaceutical and mining companies use the same strategy, they call on governments “to reform trade and investment rules that grant such extraordinary powers to corporations.”