January 11, 2016

Kenya stands up to Big Tobacco’s bribes with anti-corruption law


With the global tobacco treaty bringing down smoking rates globally, British American Tobacco (BAT) turned to breaking the law to keep its sales up in an area it considered a lucrative expansion market. The second-largest tobacco transnational in the world paid bribes to sway public officials in hopes of stopping life-saving tobacco control measures across Central and East Africa. According to a former-employee-turned-whistleblower, BAT was committing bribery in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Comoros, and Kenya.

When this illicit bribery scheme came to light, Corporate Accountability International and public health advocates in Kenya jumped into action. Consumer Information Network (CIN), our ally of many years, had already been instrumental in helping the Kenyan government develop life-saving tobacco control measures. Under pressure generated by CIN and Corporate Accountability International, Kenya launched an investigation into BAT’s bribery. And through this, they moved policymakers to pass one of the strongest anti-corruption policies in Africa. Under the new law, BAT will be barred from doing business with the government for 10 years, if it is found guilty.

With this law, Kenya is lighting the way for countries across Africa to stand up to Big Tobacco. For years the industry has interfered in public health policy in Africa, aiming to addict new customers across the continent. In partnership with our global allies, Corporate Accountability International is helping countries like Kenya shut the door on Big Tobacco’s corruption and protect people from this deadly industry.

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