Taking action on smoking and health
Timeline of tobacco industry challenges to Scottish tobacco control legislation(pdf, 42kb, updated 12 December 2012)
The ASH Scotland report: The unwelcome guest: how Scotland invited the tobacco industry to smoke outside (pdf, 292kb) exposes the tactics used by the Tobacco Industry and its associates to oppose smoke-free legislation in Scotland. Also see our follow-up reports (2007)on achieving Scotland's smoke-free success, (pdf, 1.16Mb) and Counter Measures (2010) (pdf, 2.84Mb).
Employment, tax contributions and other economic indicators are frequently used by the tobacco industry to demonstrate their contribution to the economy of a country. But the figures provided by the companies do not only exaggerate the economic importance of the industry but also ignore the social, environmental and health costs caused by tobacco and tobacco products.
Tobacco kills – but the tobacco industry has developed a range of tricks to manipulate public opinion. By investing funds in youth programmes or unrelated social causes, such as disaster relief and nature conservation groups, tobacco companies shift the focus away from their deadly products and gain a veneer of social respectability.
Due to its isolation, the tobacco industry needs to simulate support. The tobacco industry creates and uses phony “grassroots” groups that support its interests. Typically, these groups focus on individual freedom, the alleged economic damage caused by smoke-free policies or feigned controversy about second-hand smoke.
Sowing the seeds of doubt on the scientific evidence about the harm caused by tobacco and second-hand smoke is a popular tactic used by the tobacco industry. In order to weaken tobacco control legislation, the industry sparks controversy to distract and confuse the public and governments.
Threats of legal action are a popular tactic to intimidate governments that introduce effective tobacco control policies. As domestic courts, based on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), increasingly rule against the tobacco industry in cases brought against governments, the companies use bilateral and trade agreements to pursue states in international courts. The aim: to deter other countries from introducing effective tobacco control measures.
Countries that are Parties to the WHO FCTC have committed themselves to overcoming tobacco industry interference by implementing Article 5.3 of the treaty, which states that “In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.” All the Parties to the WHO FCTC have agreed on ways to stop tobacco industry interference based on four principles:
NEW: 24 FEB 2014 How Does the Tobacco Industry Attempt to Influence Marketing Regulations? A Systematic Review Savell E, Gilmore AB, Fooks G (2014) How Does the Tobacco Industry Attempt to Influence Marketing Regulations? A Systematic Review. PLoS ONE 9(2): e87389. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087389Tobacco industry political activity is far more diverse than suggested by existing taxonomies of corporate political activity. Tactics and arguments are repeated across jurisdictions, suggesting that the taxonomies of industry tactics and arguments developed in this paper are generalisable to multiple jurisdictions and can be used to predict industry activity.
Understanding corporations to inform public health policy: the example of tobacco industry interests in harm reduction and reduced risk products.Anna B Gilmore and Silvy Peeters. The Lancet, Volume 382, Special Issue, Page S14, 29 November 2013 (institutional login needed)The main study limitation is that the document collections might not fully represent transnational tobacco company (TTC) interests in Europe because they mainly cover BAT and PMI. Nevertheless, the findings suggest that TTCs' harm reduction discourse signals a tactical adaptation to policy change rather than a genuine commitment to reducing harm. Public health must, therefore, continue to protect policies from TTC influence. TTCs' historic interest in smokeless tobacco might apply to nicotine-containing products. Furthermore, having eliminated any competitive threat from snus, TTCs are now investing in e-cigarettes, which needs careful monitoring because TTC control of this market would serve to maintain the dominance of the cigarette.
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.