Leaked Documents Reveal Tobacco Company's Secret War

Philip Morris International is working to undermine WHO tobacco control treaty
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2017 6:29 PM CDT
Updated Jul 16, 2017 11:37 AM CDT
Philip Morris' International War on Tobacco Controls
A man smokes a cigarette as he walks past a shop displaying a Marlboro sign at a market in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2015.   (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara, File)

Philip Morris International—the largest publicly traded tobacco firm in the world—"is running a secretive campaign" against a World Health Organization treaty credited with saving millions of lives in what could be "one of the broadest corporate lobbying efforts in existence," Reuters reports.The news agency got its hands on thousands of pages of emails, PowerPoint presentations, national lobbying plans, and more that were never meant to be seen outside Philip Morris. The documents regard the actions taken by Philip Morris to undermine the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control treaty, which the company in internal documents calls a "regulatory runaway train" championed by "anti-tobacco extremists."

The treaty, which took effect in 2005, included recommendations to ban smoking in public places, increase taxes on cigarettes, and more. Researchers say those recommendations are saving millions of lives. But Philip Morris is trying to weaken—if not outright destroy—the treaty. The company is lobbying governments in a successful effort to replace treaty delegates from health ministries with delegates from ministries of agriculture, trade, and finance, who have reason to be more sympathetic to tobacco. A 33-person team from Philip Morris also had "success in diluting or blocking measures" during a 2014 treaty conference, according to an internal email. One person involved in the treaty calls it a "real war." Read the full piece here for more on Philip Morris' strategy in the fight against tobacco control. (Read more Longform stories.)

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