Authors: Anna Gilmore et al.
The tobacco industry’s future depends on increasing tobacco use in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), which face a growing burden of tobacco-related disease, yet have potential to prevent full-scale escalation of this epidemic. To drive up sales the industry markets its products heavily, deliberately targeting non-smokers and keeps prices low until smoking and local economies are sufficiently established to drive prices and profits up. The industry systematically flaunts existing tobacco control legislation and works aggressively to prevent future policies using its resource advantage to present highly misleading economic arguments, rebrand political activities as corporate social responsibility, and establish and use third parties to make its arguments more palatable. Increasingly it is using domestic litigation and international arbitration to bully LMICs from implementing effective policies and hijacking the problem of tobacco smuggling for policy gain, attempting to put itself in control of an illegal trade in which there is overwhelming historical evidence of its complicity. Progress will not be realised until tobacco industry interference is actively addressed as outlined in Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Exemplar LMICs show this action can be achieved and indicate that exposing tobacco industry misconduct is an essential first step.
Read more: The Lancet