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The STOP global tobacco industry watchdog, of which The Union is a partner, has launched a new database revealing close to 100 groups which are aiding the tobacco industry in its efforts to undermine public health policies worldwide.

The tobacco industry has a long history of interfering in polices proven to reduce tobacco use and save lives, such as smoke-free laws, tobacco tax increases and graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging, as set out in the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

One of the tactics that tobacco companies use to derail these policies is by channeling funding, expertise and messaging to other organisations that can carry out their agenda with perceived legitimacy. Some of these organisations are easy to identify, such as tobacco trade associations or public-relations firms working for tobacco companies. Some, however, attempt to disguise themselves by claiming independence, such as the Philip Morris-funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.

“The tobacco industry is the single greatest barrier to reducing disease related to tobacco use,” said Dr Gan Quan, Director of Tobacco Control at The Union and partner in STOP. “STOP is wholly dedicated to providing information and tools that make it easier to sort the truth from the lies.”

The Tobacco Industry Allies database, which is now accessible on the new STOP website, contains details of 92 organisations in 27 countries that promote the industry’s agenda while appearing to be independent. The largest concentration of tobacco industry allies in this initial research was in the United States and the United Kingdom, but groups were identified across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, highlighting the global effort to interfere with tobacco control policies.

Dozens more groups are still under investigation by STOP, and it is estimated that there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of other organisations working to advance tobacco industry interests.

Contact STOP if you have information relating to a possible tobacco industry ally.

Visit STOP’s new website at exposetobacco.org to access tools and resources including the latest analyses, reports, and information on the industry’s tactics.

A note on information sources

STOP researchers used academic sources and journals, government reports, financial filings, news articles, legal documents and organisations’ own material to compile the Tobacco Industry Allies database. To help assess financial transparency, STOP used the Transparify rating. All organisations listed are rooted in evidence available on Tobacco Tactics.

About STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products)

STOP is a global tobacco industry watchdog whose mission is to expose the tobacco industry strategies and tactics that undermine public health. STOP is a partnership between The Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, The Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control, The Union and  Vital Strategies. Learn more at exposetobacco.org.


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The Tobacco Control Department is based at The Union Europe Office, Edinburgh, registered charity no. SC039880
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