Tobacco companies spend untold millions of dollars annually to influence public policy and legislation. Reporting of tobacco industry political contributions is not required in most countries, so the complete picture of the tobacco industry’s investment is not fully understood. In 2010, nineteen companies with tobacco interests spent $16.6 million and employed 168 lobbyists in an effort to directly influence political decisions in the US.
In addition to political influence, tobacco companies make charitable contributions under the guise of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Often these donations and efforts do more to benefit the image of tobacco companies than to benefit humanitarian efforts. In 2010 Philip Morris International contributed a fraction of a percent of the company’s net profits in global charitable donations ($25 million in donations and
$7.5 billion in profits).
Parties to the WHO FCTC are warned to “be alert to any efforts by the tobacco industry to under-
mine or subvert tobacco control efforts” and are obligated to protect their public health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry. The influence of the tobacco industry is monumental, and tobacco companies’ contributions to socially responsible causes are
of great concern. Not only are CSR contributions
a form of tobacco advertising and promotion, but such contributions allow tobacco companies to legitimize themselves with policymakers and the public and counter the negative attention surrounding their deadly products.
The tobacco industry exerts undue influence through partnerships with other organizations, such as convenience stores, advertising, and farmers’ associations, and the hospitality industry. Tobacco companies fund front groups and think tanks to promote tobacco or oppose tobacco legislation. While these organizations appear to be independent, governments must be wary of their involvement with Big Tobacco.
THE INDUSTRY Says:
Portray the debate as one between the anti-smoking lobby and the smoker, instead of ‘pro-health and public citizens’ versus the tobacco industry.Philip Morris USA,1992