Tobacco Industry infiltration of the UN & WHO: ASH calls for action

Wednesday 02 August 2000

Press release

For immediate release

Weds 2 August 2000


Tobacco industry infiltration of UN:  ASH calls on WHO to tackle the companies responsible

Reacting to the publication today of important new evidence of systematic efforts by the tobacco industry to undermine the World Health Organisation (WHO), campaign group Action on Smoking and Health is calling on the WHO to demand written assurances from the companies that such practices have now ceased.

Citing tobacco industry documents released during litigation in the United States, the report (1) details how multinational tobacco companies, such as British American Tobacco and Philip Morris, worked for years to discredit the WHO and subvert its programmes aimed at curbing smoking around the world.

ASH  Director,Clive Bates, said: “WHO must now follow up this hard hitting report with determined action to stop the industry in its tracks.  The Director-General, Dr Brundtland, should write to the Chief Executives at BAT and Philip Morris asking them to give written guarantees that their underhand tactics will not continue into the future.  The Heads of other UN agencies affected should follow her lead.  In particular the tobacco industry must be asked to state unequivocally that no one employed directly or indirectly by them is still also working for the UN”.

Emma Must, International Campaign Manager, added:  “Now that light has been shed on the tobacco industry’s shady practices, health campaigners will have extra ammunition to press for a new global tobacco control treaty (2). The treaty is urgently needed: without it, the annual global death toll due to smoking related diseases will reach 10 million by 2030, with 70% of these deaths being borne by developing countries.”


Notes to editors

(1)   The report, entitled “Tobacco company strategies to undermine tobacco control activities at the World Health Organisation”, was written by a committee of experts convened by the Director-General of WHO in October 1999. The full report is available on the WHO website at

(2)   Further information on the treaty, called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, is available on the WHO website at or on the ASH website at

For further information contact:

Clive Bates, Director +44 (0) 20 7739 5902 (w); 077 6879 1237 (m)

Emma Must, International Campaign Manager +44 (0)20 7739 5902 (w)