Documents reveal Philip Morris’ campaign to subvert the world’s anti-smoking treaty

NEW DELHI/LAUSANNE, Switzerland,  (Reuters) – Philip Morris International Inc is waging a secret campaign to subvert the World Health Organization’s anti-smoking treaty, which was designed to save lives by curbing tobacco use, a Reuters investigation published today reveals.

In one of the largest-ever tobacco industry leaks, internal Philip Morris International documents seen by Reuters, combined with reporting in 14 countries, expose a clandestine lobbying operation that stretches from the Americas to Africa to Asia.

In internal emails, Philip Morris executives take credit for the watering down of anti-smoking measures at the biennial meeting of the tobacco control treaty, known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, or FCTC. The thousands of pages of documents reviewed by Reuters also include Philip Morris plans to set up a “global project team” for “achieving scrutiny” of tobacco control advocates.

The full story – along with a selection of internal Philip Morris documents uncovered by Reuters – can be read online. (http://reut.rs/2sSSnyQ)

Philip Morris International, which sells Marlboro and other cigarettes outside the United States, says there is nothing improper about its executives engaging with government officials.

“As a company in a highly regulated industry, speaking with governments is part of our everyday business,” said Tony Snyder, vice president of communications for Philip Morris International. “The fact that Reuters has seen internal emails discussing our engagement with governments does not make those interactions inappropriate.”

Philip Morris, which like other tobacco companies isn’t invited to the biennial treaty meetings, runs covert operations centers in the cities hosting the treaty meetings. During these gatherings, the company’s executives meet secretly with delegates from member nations that are party to the treaty.

Some 90 percent of the world’s nations are members of the FCTC. Since the treaty came into force in 2005, it has persuaded dozens of nations to boost taxes on tobacco products, pass laws banning smoking in public places and increase the size of health warnings on cigarette packs. Because of the treaty, an estimated 22 million smoking-related deaths will be averted, according to a study by researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center.

For Philip Morris, the treaty is a “regulatory runaway train” driven by “anti-tobacco extremists,” according to a description contained in a 2014 internal PowerPoint presentation.

While the company targets the biennial treaty conferences where new tobacco control measures are negotiated, it also intervenes at the country level where treaty delegates are picked and tobacco control laws are enacted.

One of Philip Morris’ goals has been to boost the presence of delegates in the national treaty delegations who are not from health agencies. That has happened, according to a Reuters analysis of delegation rosters. Delegations to the treaty now include more representatives of ministries linked to tax, finance or agriculture interests who may put revenues from tobacco over health concerns. The number of those delegates has risen from a few dozen in 2006 to more than 100 in recent years.

The internal company documents detail efforts to stymie the anti-smoking treaty that span years and include dozens of employees. After the end of the FCTC conference in Moscow in 2014, Philip Morris executives congratulated themselves on weakening new anti-smoking proposals, including ones related to international trade, tobacco farming and tobacco company liability, internal emails show.

 

Comments  

Petrotrin paid for ‘fake oil’

(Trinidad Guardian) It is now official. Two external audits have confirmed that there was a discrepancy between reported oil production in the Exploration and Production Operations in the Catshill Field operated by A&V Oil and Gas and the actual production receipts at Pointe-a-Pierre discovered by Petrotrin’s Internal Audit Department in the period January to June 2017.

Zimbabwe’s ruling party set to sack Mugabe, sources say

HARARE (Reuters) – The leaders of Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party will meet today to approve the dismissal of President Robert Mugabe, the only leader the southern African nation has known since independence 37 years ago, two party sources have said.

Gerry Adams to step down in end of an era for Irish nationalism

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams, a pivotal figure in the political life of Ireland for almost 50 years, said on Saturday he will step down as party leader and complete a generational shift in the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

US nuclear general says would resist ‘illegal’ Trump strike order

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top US nuclear commander said on Saturday that he would resist President Donald Trump if he ordered an “illegal” launch of nuclear weapons.

Despite US lagging, climate action gathers speed, if limited cash

BONN, Germany (Thomson Reuters Fou-ndation) – UN climate negotiations in Bonn, aimed at laying the groundwork for faster action to curb climate change and deal with its impacts, ended in the early hours of Saturday morning with solid progress on key issues, including preparations for ramping up carbon cuts.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built stabroeknews.com using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now

×