Tobacco firm’s secret campaign against WHO treaty
NEW DELHI/LAUSANNE (Switzerland) — Philip Morris International Inc. is waging a secret campaign to subvert the World Health Organization’s antismoking treaty, which was designed to save lives by curbing tobacco use, a Reuters investigation published yesterday reveals.
In one of the largestever 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 antismoking 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.
Philip Morris International 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 to bacco companies isn’t invited to the biennial treaty meetings, runs covert operations centres 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.
For Philip Morris, the treaty is a “regulatory runaway train” driven by “antitobacco extremists”, according to a description contained in a 2014 internal Power Point presentation.