July 17, 2017

Inside Philip Morris’ secret campaign

Photo credit: Kai Pfaffenbach, Reuters file photo.

Philip Morris International “is waging a secret campaign to subvert the World Health Organization’s anti-smoking treaty, which was designed to save lives by curbing tobacco use.”

That’s the conclusion of a new investigation from Reuters. Relying on thousands of leaked documents, the report exposes a massive effort by Big Tobacco to undermine lifesaving public health protections by infiltrating the global tobacco treaty, where global health policies are set, and influencing policymakers around the world:

The investigation, which was picked up by The New York Times, shows just how far tobacco corporations like Philip Morris International are willing to go to reap profits, even at the expense of millions of lives.

We must stand up to Big Tobacco! Write to the new director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) and urge him to keep Big Tobacco out of public health policy talks.

Urge the new director-general of the WHO to keep Big Tobacco from undermining lifesaving public health protections.

People’s lives “hang in the balance,” as the Reuters article notes, when it comes to international discussions of public health protections. Decisions like banning smoking in public areas are made during such discussions, and they are saving millions of lives. But Big Tobacco wants to be in the room, influencing decisions like these and pushing policies that protect profits, not people’s lives. In fact, the investigation revealed that Philip Morris International alone has an army of lobbyists (over 600 on the payroll) whose mission is to block, delay, and thwart these lifesaving policies.

Since the global tobacco treaty went into effect, countries around the world have implemented many effective public health protections. But there’s so much more to be done, and the WHO leaders of the treaty process know what the biggest obstacle is: Big Tobacco. Let’s show them we’ve got their backs! Write to the recently elected director-general of the WHO and urge him to stand up to Big Tobacco and support a policy to exclude the tobacco industry from infiltrating and interfering in public health policymaking.

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