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NEWS tobacco industry interference

  • STOP exposes tobacco industry allies in 27 countries that are supporting industry efforts to derail tobacco control

    The STOP global tobacco industry watchdog, of which The Union is a partner, has launched a new database revealing close to 100 groups which are aiding the tobacco industry in its efforts to undermine public health policies worldwide.

    The tobacco industry has a long history of interfering in polices proven to reduce tobacco use and save lives, such as smoke-free laws, tobacco tax increases and graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging, as set out in the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

    One of the tactics that tobacco companies use to derail these policies is by channeling funding, expertise and messaging to other organisations that can carry out their agenda with perceived legitimacy. Some of these organisations are easy to identify, such as tobacco trade associations or public-relations firms working for tobacco companies. Some, however, attempt to disguise themselves by claiming independence, such as the Philip Morris-funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.

    “The tobacco industry is the single greatest barrier to reducing disease related to tobacco use,” said Dr Gan Quan, Director of Tobacco Control at The Union and partner in STOP. “STOP is wholly dedicated to providing information and tools that make it easier to sort the truth from the lies.”

    The Tobacco Industry Allies database, which is now accessible on the new STOP website, contains details of 92 organisations in 27 countries that promote the industry’s agenda while appearing to be independent. The largest concentration of tobacco industry allies in this initial research was in the United States and the United Kingdom, but groups were identified across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, highlighting the global effort to interfere with tobacco control policies.

    Dozens more groups are still under investigation by STOP, and it is estimated that there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of other organisations working to advance tobacco industry interests.

    Contact STOP if you have information relating to a possible tobacco industry ally.

    Visit STOP’s new website at exposetobacco.org to access tools and resources including the latest analyses, reports, and information on the industry’s tactics.

    A note on information sources

    STOP researchers used academic sources and journals, government reports, financial filings, news articles, legal documents and organisations’ own material to compile the Tobacco Industry Allies database. To help assess financial transparency, STOP used the Transparify rating. All organisations listed are rooted in evidence available on Tobacco Tactics.

    About STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products)

    STOP is a global tobacco industry watchdog whose mission is to expose the tobacco industry strategies and tactics that undermine public health. STOP is a partnership between The Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, The Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control, The Union and  Vital Strategies. Learn more at exposetobacco.org.


  • Brazil ratifies the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products

    Brazil has joined a group of countries committed to reducing tobacco use by stamping out the illegal tobacco trade. It ratified the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (ITP) on 25 May – just a handful of countries are now needed to follow suit before the treaty can come into effect. The Union provided legal advice to Brazil’s government and Congress to secure ratification.


  • Mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation pulls out of tobacco industry-sponsored event for students

    The finale of British American Tobacco Bangladesh’s [BATB] student competition ‘Battle of Minds 2017’ lost its guest of honour, Mayor Sayeed Khokon at the eleventh hour. He pulled out following pressure from civil society organisations that highlighted that the event was a promotional stunt targeting young people with pro-tobacco messaging.


  • Union position on heat-not-burn tobacco products published – precautionary principle advised

    The Union has today published its official position statement on the new generation of tobacco products – heat-not-burn (HNB) – which are now being aggressively marketed by the tobacco industry as ‘lower risk’ products.


  • Uruguay set to become a world leader for restricting tobacco branding as plain packaging bill reaches Congress

    This week Uruguay’s government submitted a bill for plain tobacco packaging to Congress. Once passed, the country will have the world’s most comprehensive set of restrictions on tobacco branding, and its associated marketing benefits. The tobacco industry are already limited by the ‘single presentation’ regulation – which means tobacco companies can only sell one variant within its brand family.


  • The Union responds to tobacco giant claims to want a smoke-free England

    The Union has issued the following statement in response to reports in the UK media that one of the largest tobacco companies in the world, Philip Morris International, claims to want a smoke-free England by 2040:


  • 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health: Tobacco Control Plenary

    The second plenary of The Union World Conference on Lung Health examined the impact of the tobacco industry’s corporate abuse on economically disenfranchised groups. Gustavo Sóñora, the Union’s legal consultant for tobacco control in Latin America, urged governments to remain focused on the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).


  • The Union calls on PMI to halt production, marketing and sales of cigarettes

    The Union is one of 89 organisations, representing global health, medicine, human rights, and consumer protection around the globe who have published an open letter to Philip Morris International (PMI) demanding that they immediately cease production, marketing and sales of cigarettes. The move comes after the Danish Institute of Human Rights conducted an evaluation of PMI and concluded that the company could not meet human rights norms while still selling tobacco products. PMI owns some of the world's most powerful cigarette brands – including Marlboro. Read the letter here.


  • Union statement on Philip Morris International's new foundation to 'fight smoking'

    The Union today denounced Philip Morris International’s (PMI) launch of a ‘Foundation for a Smoke-free World’ as a billion-dollar bribe the tobacco company hopes will secure it a seat at the table with public health policymakers around the world.


  • Georgia pushes ahead with significant upgrade to national tobacco control programme

    Georgia’s Parliament hosted a high-level event on World No Tobacco Day to mark the recent advance of national laws that will reduce tobacco use and protect and promote the health and economic well-being of the Georgian people.


  • Tobacco: a threat to development - A message from José Luis Castro on World No Tobacco Day

    The World Health Organization’s 2017 report on the tobacco epidemic in China reveals some truly startling statistics – 200 million lives will be lost to tobacco in China this century. Economic costs have spiralled by 1000 percent in under 15 years. In 2014 alone the bill was around 350 billion Yuan (US $57 billion).


  • Civil society takes a multi-pronged approach to preventing tobacco industry interference in Bangladesh

    Civil society organisations in Bangladesh are escalating their mission to prevent tobacco industry interference in public health policy. Despite making good progress in other areas of tobacco control, legal measures are not yet in place to stop tobacco lobbyists from influencing policymakers. Proponents of these preventative measures are making their case through research, advocacy and education nationwide.


  • Training to prevent tobacco industry interference in Latin America

    In partnership with Uruguay’s Ministry of Health, The Union delivered an in-depth three-day technical training on tobacco industry interference in public health policymaking for government officials from across Latin America.


  • WHO FCTC Article 5.3 training in Montevideo, Uruguay

    A workshop on preventing tobacco industry interference will be run by The Union's Latin America team next month. Government officials from Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay are expected to attend.


  • Globally significant legal victory for public health: Uruguay wins big against Philip Morris

    Uruguay has won the six-year legal battle launched by Philip Morris International (PMI) in 2010 before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) – one of the world’s smallest countries claiming a significant victory over one of the world’s largest corporations.


  • Brazil launches first government-run tobacco industry observatory in the Latin America-Caribbean region, with support from The Union

    The government of Brazil, in partnership with The Union, has launched an online observatory to protect and strengthen tobacco control policies by monitoring tobacco industry interference -- the first such government-run initiative in the region.


  • New tactics to tackle tobacco industry interference announced at 46th Union conference

    New tools to combat tobacco industry strategies that undermine and delay public health policy were announced at a working group meeting for Union members at the annual conference. Preventing industry interference is one of the most complex, but important elements of any tobacco control programme – this working group offers members support to develop these measures.


  • Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launch anti-tobacco trade litigation fund

    Michael R Bloomberg and Bill Gates will support countries facing tobacco industry law suits

    Michael R Bloomberg and Bill Gates announced the launch of the Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. The Fund is a new joint effort to combat the tobacco industry’s use of international trade agreements to threaten and prevent countries from passing strong tobacco-control laws.


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The Tobacco Control Department is based at The Union Europe Office, Edinburgh, registered charity no. SC039880
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