Tobacco firm’s se­cret cam­paign against WHO treaty

The Witness - - NEWS -

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.

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