up the powerful global smoking lobby
Global public health efforts to reduce smoking are at
odds with the interests of the tobacco industry.
According to a case study published in the journal
Globalization and Health, competing tobacco companies
co-operate via a global network of national and regional
manufacturing associations to undermine public health
measures to counter smoking.
Patricia McDaniel, Gina Intinarelli and Ruth Malone from the
University of California, San Francisco dug deep into
documentary data from tobacco industry documents archives.
Their case study, which maps globally tobacco
industry-linked groups known as "issues management
organizations," draws upon previously secret tobacco
industry documents and details some of the strategies
these bodies used.
The International Committee on Smoking Issues (ICOSI) was
formed in 1977 by seven tobacco company chief executives to
create common anti-tobacco control strategies and build a
global network of regional and national manufacturing
associations. Later renamed INFOTAB, multinational companies
built the organization rapidly: by 1984, it had 69 members
operating in 57 countries.
According to the authors, INFOTAB material, including
position papers and "action kits" helped members challenge
local tobacco control measures and maintain tobacco-friendly
environments. In 1992 INFOTAB was replaced by two smaller
organizations: The Tobacco Documentation Centre, which
continues to operate, distributes smoking-related
information and industry argumentation to members, some
produced by cross-company committees. Agro-Tobacco Services,
and now Hallmark Marketing Services, assists the
INFOTAB-backed and industry supported International Tobacco
Growers Association in promoting tobacco's economic
importance in developing nations.
"Policymakers should be aware that although these
associations claim to represent only national or regional
interests, they are allied to and coordinated with a
confederation of trans-national tobacco companies seeking to
protect profits by undermining public health," says Ruth
Malone. "Cigarette manufacturers and their attorneys played
the biggest role. Under their explicit direction, INFOTAB
set policies and crafted strategies that ensured that the
global tobacco community spoke and acted as one."
Tobacco is the second major cause of death worldwide,
with 84% of smokers living in developing and transitional
economy countries. Litigation against the tobacco industry
led to the public release of over 47 million pages of
internal industry documents housed in paper depositories and
online electronic archives.
Globalization and Health
Journal. The journal is affiliated with the London
School of Economics (LSE Health).
Concise Encyclopedia and Internet Press Office
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