Coinciding with the World No Tobacco Day (May 31st), a new report has been published which reveals how tobacco companies worked to prevent the strengthening of European tobacco legislation such as improvements to tobacco labelling and the removal of misleading terms such as ‘light’ and ‘mild’. The report was commissioned by the Smoke Free Partnership (SFP) through a Cancer Research UK grant and carried out by academic researchers. It has been released today, on World No Tobacco Day which is themed “Tobacco Industry Interference”.
Researchers reviewed previously secret corporate documents released after legal action in America. These were examined to understand the tactics used by the tobacco industry when the EU was developing the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) in 1999. As the TPD is currently under review, this report is particularly pertinent, as many of the same tactics are being employed once again.
Direct lobbying of politicians and civil servants who were seen to have particular influence over the shape of the new legislation was a key tactic. Indirect lobbying was also done through tobacco farmers, suppliers and distributors as well as engaging with trade organisations. Tobacco companies also used legal, exaggerated economic and scientific arguments. This also enabled tobacco industry representatives to gain direct access to officials.
The report provides a timely warning over tobacco industry tactics and the global World Health Organisation (WHO) treaty on tobacco control, which was enacted after the TPD came into force, provides clear guidance for officials to avoid conflict of interests by meeting with the tobacco industry only when absolutely necessary . It also shows the public health community that it needs to strengthen its expertise in the areas of trade agreements, economics and science.
The summary and full report can also be read online
If you have any queries, or would like to discuss the review of the Tobacco Products Directive and related issues, please do not hesitate to contact the Layla Theiner (Public Affairs Manager), Cancer Research UK