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Tobacco Industry



The tobacco industry has a long history of denying the health risks of smoking, of obscuring the truth about tobacco and deceiving smokers.  Millions of internal industry documents were made public following extensive litigation in the United States, leading to the creation of the Truth Tobacco Industry  Documents collection hosted by the University of California San Francisco.

Researchers at the University of Bath have also created TobaccoTactics – a unique academic resource that explores how the tobacco industry influences policy and public health in the UK, the EU, and internationally.

See also the Tobacco Industry section of ASH’s archived webpages on the British Library’s UK webarchive.

As public understanding of the adverse effects smoking has on life expectancy and wellbeing developed, industry pro-tobacco arguments diversified.

Now the industry has been forced to concede that smoking kills, efforts are increasingly concentrated on building libertarian and economic arguments against policies to reduce smoking prevalence, as scare tactics to deter policymakers from supporting tobacco control policies.

The Tobacconomics report, produced by ASH, reveals how the tobacco industry uses pseudo economic arguments to divert attention away from the health consequences of smoking to block new health regulations and ultimately protect its revenues. As the report shows, this goes as far as repeatedly misleading its own shareholders.

In propagating their economic arguments the tobacco firms have established a disparate and loose coalition of lobbyists, smaller retailers and businesses.

Some of these groups can be seen as no more than ‘fronts’ for industry interests. Many groups, however, have sided with the economic arguments used by the industry because it has roused their fears that tobacco regulation will damage their livelihood.

The three major pro-tobacco arguments developed by the industry and its lobbyists, which are recycled again and again for each new policy intervention, can be summarised as follows:

  • Standing up for small businesses and defending workers’ jobs
  • Raising the alarm about counterfeit and smuggled tobacco
  • Denying the effectiveness of tobacco control measures

The report gives examples of how these arguments are developed and debunks the claims that support them.

However, no matter how spurious the economic arguments might be and how plain the evidence is to the contrary, these assertions capture media attention and assume an influence on policy makers disproportionate to their accuracy by dint of repetition and through powerful lobbying by vested interests.

PMI vs Uruguay – World Bank ruling


In 2010 Philip Morris International initiated a law suit with an arbitration panel of the World Bank alleging that two of Uruguay’s tobacco control laws violated a bi-lateral treaty with Switzerland.  On 8 July 2016, the tribunal dismissed all of PMI’s claims and ordered the company to pay Uruguay’s legal costs.  The following briefings by […]

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HMRC Consultation on Tobacco Illicit Trade Protocol – ASH response


ASH response to HMRC Consultation on Tobacco Illicit Trade Protocol – licensing of equipment and the supply chain.

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The UK Tobacco Industry


British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco, the world’s second and fourth largest tobacco companies (excluding the Chinese state tobacco monopoly) are based in the UK.

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lllicit Tobacco: What is the tobacco industry trying to do?


ASH Briefing –  Illicit Tobacco: What is the tobacco industry trying to do? Produced for World No Tobacco Day, May 2015, the briefing reports on the tobacco industry’s conflicting positions on the illicit trade.

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ASH submission to DCLG on tobacco litter


ASH submission to the Department of Communities and Local Government on tobacco litter.

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ASH response to HMRC consultation on the control of raw tobacco


ASH response to a HM Revenue & Customs consultation on the control of raw tobacco.

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ASH and UKCTAS response to consultation on a Minimum Excise Tax


A response by ASH and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies to the Government’s consultation on a Minimum Excise Tax.

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Consultation on anti-forestalling restrictions on tobacco products


ASH’s response to a consultation on anti-forestalling restrictions on tobacco products.

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Tobacco front groups and third party lobbying tactics


This document has been prepared by ASH for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health and sets out a summary of information in the public domain at the current time [January 2014] about front groups and third party advocates with links to the tobacco industry and their role in the recent UK legislative […]

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Tobacconomics


Tobacco companies have a long history of misleading politicians and the public. As understanding developed of the adverse effects smoking has on life expectancy and wellbeing, industry pro-tobacco arguments diversified. Now the industry has been forced to concede that smoking kills, efforts are increasingly concentrated on building libertarian and economic arguments against policies to reduce […]

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The Smokefilled Room


How Big Tobacco influences health policy in the UK – Using previously secret documents from the tobacco companies’ own archives, this report reveals the dirty tricks used by cigarette companies to derail UK health policies that could save the lives of thousands of Britons every year.

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‘You’ve got to be kidding’


A compelling dossier of BAT’s activities in promoting its tobacco products to young people around the globe.    

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British American Tobacco: Exporting Misery


A case-study of BAT’s efforts to promote smoking abroad, using Kenya as a case-study and focusing on the environmental damage and exploitation of cheap labour they are responsible for, as well as the use of methods that are no longer legal in this country or many other developed nations in recruiting new nicotine addicts.

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BAT in its own words


Following BAT’s Big Wheeze in 2004, this is the second major report jointly produced by ASH, Christian Aid and Friends of the Earth. It examines British American Tobacco’s boasts of corporate social responsibility and demonstrates the deceit and corporate greed behind this projected image.

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BAT’s Big Wheeze – the alternative report


A major report jointly produced by ASH, Christian Aid and Friends of the Earth examining the British American Tobacco’s claims of being a socially responsible company. This report shows that though BAT tries hard to convince shareholders and governments of its CSR credentials, its operations around the world leave a lot to be desired.

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