The Guardian investigation: 106 liberalist lobbies financed by Big tobacco

Free-market thinktanks around the world provide powerful support to cigarette manufacturers in battles against the most stringent regulations. To prove it is a thorough investigation by the Guardian, according to which organized groups of communicators (Thinktank, in fact) in the service of the liberalism lobbies have had dark relations with Big tobacco.

Impressive numbers
According to the British newspaper, at least 106 thinktanks in 24 countries (not including Italy) have accepted donations from tobacco companies, discussed against tobacco control policies required by the World Health Organization (WHO), or both. The groups examined by the Guardian have opposed, in various ways, the simple packaging of cigarettes, written to regulators in support of new tobacco products or promoted industry-funded research. In an extreme case, a basic think-think in Africa has questioned whether the link between cancer and smoking “still had to be established empirically” before withdrawing the claim. Patricio Marquez, leading specialist in global health practices at the World Bank, stated that this activity could have an impact on public health efforts. The thinktanks “have created an arsenal of evidence to influence the legislative and decision-making process,” he said.

The Guardian examined one of the largest independent thinktank networks in the free market of the world, organized by Atlas Network, a non-profit organization based near Washington DC in Arlington, Virginia, which claims to link “a global network of over 475 independent civil society organizations in over 90 countries with the ideas needed to advance freedom ”. In this network more than a fifth intervened in some way against the controls, took industrial donations or both.

The tests
Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco (BAT), Japan Tobacco, Altria and Reynolds American all made donations to free-market thinktanks analyzed by the Guardian. In the United States, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and Americans for Tax Reform accepted all donations from the tobacco industry and continued to comment on the tobacco policy. In the United Kingdom, the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute of Economic Affairs have done the same. For example, the Heritage Foundation has accepted donations from the American manufacturer Marlboro Altria in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016. “In 2018 – writes The Guardian – a Heritage scholar testified before the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to favor of the new IQOS product by Philip Morris International,

The thinktank response
In response to the Guardian’s questions, the thinktanks claimed to be “fiercely independent, uninfluenced by any donation, and support pro-business positions, low regulation and taxation as part of a broader free market philosophy”. The Guardian adds: “Some have claimed not to be opposed to all tobacco controls, have welcomed the increase in electronic cigarettes in the richer markets and have declared that they are opposed to the” regressive “taxation of cigarettes they claim only those with a low income “. Unlike lobbyists, thinktanks are not required to disclose their funding. However, the world of thinktank has been subjected to scrutiny in recent years, when donations from foreign governments and companies came to light.

The response of the tobacco producers
Tobacco producers have denied that there was anything problematic about the behavior of thinktanks that support industry-relevant positions. Philip Morris International told the Guardian “ideas are not for sale”, a position reported by other tobacco companies. “We have worked and will continue to work with carefully selected organizations around the world that share our desire to promote policies that produce significant improvements to public health,” said PMI, the Marlboro cigarette manufacturer. ”

It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that an organization’s support would lead to a group that takes actions that would otherwise be fundamentally opposed.” “Japan Tobacco International said: “Various groups around the world share our opinion that any regulation, tobacco-related or not, if not verified and unproven, could have very negative knock-on effects.” British American Tobacco told the Guardian: “Like many other companies, we support organizations that share the same ideas on important issues for our company and our consumers. Altria, the American manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes and donor of dozens of North American expert groups, said: “Like most large companies, Altria and its companies support and are part of policy-oriented organizations focused on issues that concern the our business “.

could have very negative knock-on effects ”. British American Tobacco told the Guardian: “Like many other companies, we support organizations that share the same ideas on important issues for our company and our consumers. Altria, the American manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes and donor of dozens of North American expert groups, said: “Like most large companies, Altria and its companies support and are part of policy-oriented organizations focused on issues that concern the our business “. could have very negative knock-on effects ”. British American Tobacco told the Guardian: “Like many other companies, we support organizations that share the same ideas on important issues for our company and our consumers. Altria, the American manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes and donor of dozens of North American expert groups, said: “Like most large companies, Altria and its companies support and are part of policy-oriented organizations focused on issues that concern the our business “.

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