Tobacco Industry Interference (TII)

Article 5.3 provides that: “In setting public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry.” The tobacco control treaty's general obligation to protect public health includes measures recommended in the Guidelines such as renouncing or rejecting contributions or partnerships of, denormalizing the so-called CSR of, limit interaction/ avoid conflicts of interest with, disapproving business privileges of , and requiring transparency from the tobacco industry and those who work to further its interests. It is essential to identify the individuals and entities who comprise the tobacco industry in order to impose such measures. Each country would require a basic tobacco industry profile as well as constant monitoring to spot third parties that promote tobacco industry interests.

Who is the Tobacco Industry?

The WHO FCTC defines “tobacco industry” to mean "tobacco manufacturers, wholesale distributors and importers of tobacco products." Below are key materials on the top transnational tobacco manufacturers. Distributors and importers vary from country to country.

Some of the major transnational tobacco companies are listed and described in the Tobaccotactics site of the University of Bath.
Tobacco producers are being mapped out at The Citadel Project of Stanford University in USA.

Who are those representing the tobacco industry's interests?

From a practical standpoint, the latter is deemed to "include but is not limited to: entities and subsidiaries engaged in the manufacturing, distribution and/or sale of tobacco or tobacco-related products; entities working to specifically further the interests of the tobacco industry through lobbying, advertising, legal advice or similar activities; entities being funded, supported or influenced in their governance by tobacco-related entities; and entities having tobacco industry or their representatives among their members." *

* Reference: Handbook for Non-State Actors on Engagement with the World Health Organization



A partial list of entities and individuals that have furthered tobacco industry interests are provided in the links below:
Tobacco Industry Executives or Representatives
Think Tanks
PR Companies
Lobby Groups
Lobbyists and PR People

What are the tobacco industry tactics?

Evidence including internal tobacco industry documents have shown how the tobacco industry has used flawed arguments, fabricated or misleading information, unethical approaches, and front groups to undermine life saving tobacco control measures by influencing policy makers either directly or through third parties.

For years, public health experts poured over tobacco industry's internal documents to decipher the pattern of strategies deployed to weaken tobacco control. Tobacco industry's internal documents were made public as an outcome of public interestlitigation against tobacco companies in the US.  WHO sums up these strategies in this table:

Tactics Goal
Intelligence gathering To monitor opponents and social trends in order to anticipate future challenges
Public relations To mould public opinion, using the media to promote positions favourable to the industry
Political funding To use campaign contributions to win votes and legislative favours from politicians
Lobbying To make deals and influence political processes
Consultancy To recruit supposedly independent experts who are critical of tobacco control measures
Funding research, including universities To create doubt about evidence of the health effects of tobacco use
Smokers’ rights groups To create an impression of spontaneous, grassroots public support
Creating alliances and front groups To mobilize farmers, retailers, advertising agencies, the hospitality industry, grassroots and anti-tax groups with a view to influencing legislation
Intimidation To use legal and economic power as a means of harassing and frightening opponents who support tobacco control
Philanthropy To buy friends and social respectability from arts, sports, humanitarian and cultural groups
Corporate social responsibility To promote voluntary measures as an effective way to address tobacco control and create an illusion of being a ‘changed’ company and to establish partnerships with health interests
Youth smoking prevention and retailer education programmes To appear to be on the side of efforts to prevent children from smoking and to depict smoking as an adult choice
Litigation To challenge laws and intimidate tobacco industry opponents
Smuggling To undermine tobacco excise tax policies and marketing and trade restrictions and thereby increase profits
International treaties and other international instruments To use trade agreements to force entry into closed markets and to challenge the legality of proposed tobacco control legislation
Joint manufacturing and licensing agreements and voluntary policy agreements with governments To form joint ventures with state monopolies and subsequently pressure governments to privatize monopolies
Pre-emption To overrule local or state government by removing its power to act





Below are more resources on these tactics:








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