Taking action on smoking and health
Overall, the UK has failed to make progress in preventing the tobacco industry from interfering in policy and legislation, according to the latest global rankings.
While the UK continues to compare favourably to many of the 79 other countries surveyed, there is still work to do to raise its performance to the level reported in 2019, when it ranked first.
Researchers found that the UK continued to offer tobacco companies opportunities to use so-called corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes to open the door to government officials and policy makers, particularly in areas of significant public interest such as environmental pollution and COVID-19. Also of concern is the growing use of industry front groups, and the difficulty of identifying their role in lobbying and influencing policy.
UK Tobacco Industry Interference Index
The UK research, published today in the UK Tobacco Industry Interference Index (UKTI), was led by the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath in collaboration with Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), ASH Scotland, ASH Wales and Cancer Research UK (CRUK).
The UKTI forms part of the Global Tobacco Index (GTI), which, this year, ranks 80 countries based on how well they implement and comply with the obligations of a global health treaty, known as the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which prevents tobacco industry interference with governments.
The UK scored 32 out of a possible 100 – compared to 26 in 2019 – in the ranking where the lower the score, the better a country is faring.
Areas of concern
The Index shows several key areas of concern in the UK:
Sheila Duffy, chief executive of ASH Scotland, said:
‘Tobacco is the single most damaging consumer product on the market, and the corporate multi-nationals who promote it and profit from it have long and well-documented track records of deceit and attempts to interfere with proposed public health measures. The Westminster and Holyrood Governments must up their game on transparency about tobacco industry funded attempts to influence public health policy, and reject any suggestion that the industry and its vested interests are valid health stakeholders or partners.’
For comment from: the University of Bath Tobacco Control Research group, ASH (England), ASH Wales and CRUK visit the original press release on the University of Bath website UK fails to regain number one position for second year running (bath.ac.uk)
For more information about the UK Tobacco Industry Interference Index visit The UK Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2021 (bath.ac.uk)
Action on Smoking & Health (Scotland) (ASH Scotland) is a registered Scottish charity (SC 010412) and a company limited by guarantee(Scottish company no 141711). The registered office is 8 Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 2HB.
ASH Scotland acknowledges with thanks the support of the British Heart Foundation and the Scottish Government in developing our website.