Action on Smoking and Health

Tag Archives: Philip Morris International

ASH Daily News for 24 July 2018


  • Wales: Young people in Gwynedd stamp out smoking
  • West Midlands: Sandwell council set to cut funding for stop smoking programme
  • Opinion: UK faces a vaping dilemma as e-cigarettes puff up the glamour
  • Opinion: Beware tobacco firm’s Trojan horse


  • Europe: Clouds produced by e-cigarettes breakdown within seconds
  • India: Take steps to prevent tobacco use on site, schools directed


Wales: Young people in Gwynedd stamp out smoking

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown that the percentage of Gwynedd’s population who have never smoked has risen by 35% since 2011, with more and more 18 to 24-year-olds choosing not to smoke.

Nationally this age group has had the biggest drop in smoking. Last year across Britain, 17.8% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they were current smokers, compared with 2011 when more than a quarter smoked.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, put this reduction down to banning tobacco advertising, stating “The brightly coloured pack displays we used to have in shops disappeared completely in 2015 and the packs they do see nowadays are a sludgy green colour, with large picture warnings.”

Source: Cambrian News, 23 July 2018

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West Midlands: Sandwell council set to cut funding for stop smoking programme

On Wednesday the 25th of July Sandwell councillors are to discuss the possibility of cutting the stop smoking programme by £360,000, following a reduction in smokers from nearly 23% to 19% of adults in five years, and budget cutbacks.

Councillor Elaine Costigan, cabinet member for public health and protection, said smoking cessation is still a key priority for Sandwell. She stated, “Our budgets are under pressure due to the effects of government cuts but our expenditure on our work in this area will actually be similar to previous years because there has been under-spending in the past…The level of smoking in Sandwell remains significantly higher than the regional and national averages.”

She added: “Our new budget will be a better fit for this service, which will continue to target high prevalence of smoking in ‘hard to reach’ groups. We are also developing innovative ways of delivering stop smoking services through a self-help digital system and helping smokers to access services locally.”

Source: Ludlow & Tenbury Wells Advertiser, 23 July 2018

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Opinion: UK faces a vaping dilemma as e-cigarettes puff up the glamour

Linda Bauld, professor of health policy at the University of Stirling and deputy director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, examines the introduction of the e-cigarette Juul in the UK.

“Juul, the US’s most successful e-cigarette brand, launched in the UK last week. Though aimed at smokers looking to quit, Juul has proved very attractive to teenagers in the US. This has helped to prompt an international debate over whether the benefits of vaping for adult smokers outweigh the potential risks to young people who might otherwise not use a nicotine product.

E-cigarette use is supported by British public health agencies because research suggests these products are substantially less harmful than combustible tobacco. But some critics argue that youth access to Juul and other e-cigarettes should be prohibited. Before we succumb to fears that this new product will lead to widespread teen addiction, it is important to consider the context.

E-cigarettes are regulated differently in the UK and in the US. In the US, advertising of tobacco alternatives is widespread, whist in the UK, almost all forms of e-cigarette marketing are prohibited. A further difference is the nicotine content. Juul is sold with up to 50mg/ml nicotine in the US, whereas EU regulation limits it to 20mg/ml for all vaping products. Juul devices sold in the UK will have to comply with this limit, and this lower level of nicotine is likely to make the products less addictive.

Surveys have been tracking e-cigarette uptake in UK teenagers for years. One recent study we conducted pooled results from five surveys in 2016, involving more than 60,000 young people. It found that, although experimentation with existing e-cigarette models was not uncommon, regular vaping was almost entirely confined to young people who already smoked. In fact rates of regular use of e-cigarettes in non-smoking youth were less than 1%.”

Source: Financial Times, 24 July 2018

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Opinion: Beware tobacco firm’s Trojan horse

Sandra Mullin (Senior vice-president, policy, advocacy and communication, Vital Strategies) claims Philip Morris’s overture to the NHS is part of a strategy to undermine tobacco control.

“Philip Morris International’s proposition to NHS bodies is not just a PR stunt – it’s part of a what looks like a strategy to undermine tobacco control, as leaked company papers seem to show.

Globally, PMI appears to be using e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products and its Foundation for a Smoke-Free World as Trojan horses in a strategy to drive a policy agenda that will suit its own business needs.

In our view, PMI is desperate to claim it is the critical element in reducing the harm caused by its own products and will no doubt use any link to the NHS to further its lobbying and marketing. Enabling it to co-opt the NHS would be a betrayal of everything the health service stands for.”

Source: Guardian, 22 July 2018

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Europe: Clouds produced by e-cigarettes breakdown within seconds

A new study comparing vaping and smoking has found vaping has less of an impact on the surrounding air. While particles from cigarette smoke linger in the air for up to 45 minutes, researchers found that those stemming from e-cigarette products evaporate within seconds, even indoors. Even in the ‘worst case scenario,’ where there was no ventilation, the study found the particle count quickly returned to background levels.

Fontem Ventures, which is part of Imperial Brands, produced this research in collaboration with Kaunas University of Technology in Lithuania and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, ETH Zurich.

See also:
Nicotine & Tobacco Research, Characterization of the Spatial and Temporal Dispersion Differences Between Exhaled E-Cigarette Mist and Cigarette Smoke

Source: Mail on Sunday, 23 July 2018

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India: Take steps to prevent tobacco use on site, schools directed

The Delhi Government has issued guidelines to all schools in the capital requiring them to become “tobacco-free zones.”

The schools have been asked to nominate a health scheme officer to maintain their buildings as tobacco-free zones. “Tobacco-free zone” boards will have to be displayed at prominent places in school premises and “no smoking” signage boards will have to be displayed.

The schools have also been asked to give written notice to authorities if any tobacco product is sold within 100 meters of the school premises.

Source: The Pioneer, 24 July 2018

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ASH Daily News for 19 July 2018


  • Philip Morris International under fire over ‘disgraceful’ PR stunt
  • British Government orders Philip Morris to stop advertising “healthier” tobacco products, or face legal action
  • North-East: Smokers’ stories wanted for ‘hard-hitting’ health campaign
  • Lancashire: More seizures of illicit tobacco in Nelson
  • Scotland: Avoidable death rate highest in the UK
  • Scotland: Dundee has one of the highest smoking rates in Britain


  • UN-backed treaty against illicit tobacco trade set to take effect in September
  • Japan: First anti-smoking law gets go ahead – but it is lax and partial
  • USA: Campaign helps smokers to quit


Philip Morris International under fire over ‘disgraceful’ PR stunt

Philip Morris International (PMI), the world’s largest tobacco firm, has been accused of staging “a disgraceful PR stunt” by offering to help NHS staff quit smoking to help mark the service’s 70th birthday. PMI made an ‘offer’ in a letter sent to all NHS bodies in England and also to Simon Stevens and Matt Hancock.

Mark MacGregor, PMI’s director of corporate affairs in the UK and Ireland, said in the widely distributed letter: “To support the 70th anniversary of the NHS, we are keen to work with you to help the 73,000 NHS employees who currently smoke, to quit cigarettes. This would be a collaborative campaign: you would provide cessation advice for quitting nicotine altogether, and for smokers who do not quit we can help them switch to smoke-free alternatives.”

Paul Burstow, the former Liberal Democrat health minister in the coalition government, said in a letter to Simon Stevens: “Any such collaboration with the tobacco industry would be completely inappropriate and a breach of the UK government’s obligations as a party to the WHO FCTC.”

Bob Blackman, chair of the APPG on Smoking in Health said: “They have the cheek to say they want to support the 70th anniversary of the NHS, but it’s clearly just a commercial opportunity to use the NHS to promote their heated tobacco products.”

Steve Brine, the public health minister said he would tell NHS trusts not to get involved. Brine said: “Our aim to make our NHS – and our next generation – smoke-free must be completely separate from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH said: “This is a disgraceful PR stunt. PMI is pretending partnership would benefit the NHS, when actually it would give them a massive commercial advantage. They could promote their own harm-reduction products as NHS-endorsed.”

Source: Guardian, 19 July 2018

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British Government orders Phillip Morris to stop advertising “healthier” tobacco products, or face legal action

The Government will take one of the world’s largest tobacco firms to court unless it stops illegally targeting UK consumers with tobacco adverts, a Minister has said.

Yesterday the Department of Health sent a formal order to Phillip Morris International, which makes Marlboro cigarettes, telling it to remove poster adverts for “healthier” tobacco products from shops around the UK. PMI has been supplying newsagents across Britain with window posters promoting new iQOS tobacco heaters.

The iQOS posters are in breach of a strict, long-standing ban on advertising tobacco and tobacco-related products, the Department for Health and the National Trading Standards Institute have confirmed.

Public Health Minister, Steve Brine, said: “We have been explicit that the promotion of tobacco products is unlawful – as my letter to Phillip Morris International makes abundantly clear. We expect PMI to stop this unlawful advertisement of tobacco products and we will not rule out legal action if they continue.”

Source: The Telegraph, 18 July 2018

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North-East: Smokers’ stories wanted for ‘hard-hitting’ health campaign

Tobacco control group Fresh wants people in the North-East affected by smoking to share their real life experiences. The aim is to put smokers’ real stories at the heart of a ‘hard hitting’ new campaign later this year, warning of the dangers of smoking. They are hoping to hear from former smokers who have been personally affected by ill-health or family members whose loved ones have suffered from a smoking-related illness.

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “It is a brave step to share your experiences with others, but we know that it can have a powerful impact in encouraging others to quit. If you want to make a difference and are interested in backing the campaign, we would love to hear from you.”

Source: The Northern Echo, 19 July 2018

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Lancashire: More seizures of illicit tobacco in Nelson

Action against illegal tobacco in central Nelson has resulted in a further seizure in under a week at one shop, and a manufacturing operation being uncovered at another. An inspection by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards and Lancashire Police on Tuesday, July 17, found a further 88 packs behind the counter at one shop, after a raid the previous Thursday netted over 2,200 packs worth £10,000.

Officers then visited a second shop just outside Nelson town centre, where they found a production line for manufacturing packs of counterfeit rolling tobacco in an upstairs room.

Source: This is Lancashire, 18 July 2018

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Scotland: Avoidable death rate highest in the UK

Scotland has the highest rate of avoidable death in the UK and the figures are getting worse, a BBC analysis has found. In 2016, the rate stood at 301 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 287 in 2014. Experts blame social deprivation, with easy access to alcohol, tobacco and fast food also a factor.

Dr Andrew Fraser, from NHS Health Scotland, said: “We know that people in poorer areas experience more harm from alcohol, tobacco and fast food than those in more affluent areas. Part of the reason for this is that it is easier to access the things that harm our health in those areas.”

“To prevent death, disease and harm we need to take actions where and when they are needed. We must address harm from alcohol, tobacco, being overweight or obese. However, these are often common factors, co-existing in communities, groups and individuals, and so we must also address the environment we live in.”

Source: BBC News: 19 July 2018

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Scotland: Dundee has one of the highest smoking rates in Britain

New figures from the Office for National Statistics show Dundee still has one of the highest rates of smoking in Britain, with more than one in five adults smoking. However, the number of smokers in Dundee is decreasing, due to a successful and sustained tobacco control strategy from the government. In 2011, 27.3% of Dundee’s population smoked 2017 and by this figure had dropped to 20.8%.

Source: Evening Telegraph, 18 July 2018

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UN-backed treaty against illicit tobacco trade set to take effect in September

A UN-backed treaty aimed at stopping the illicit trading of tobacco products, is set to take effect on the 25th of September. The package of measures agreed by countries which 45 Parties and the European Union have ratified is known as the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. It was developed in response to a growing illegal trade in tobacco products, often across borders.

The Protocol aims to make the supply chain of tobacco products secure through a series of governmental measures. It requires the establishment of a global tracking and tracing regime within five years of its entry into force. Other provisions to ensure control of the supply chain include licensing, record keeping requirements, and regulation of internet-sales, duty-free sales and international transit.

Source: Government World Magazine, 18 July 2018 x

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Japan: First anti-smoking law gets go ahead – but it is lax and partial

Japan has approved its first national legislation banning smoking inside of public facilities, but the watered-down measure excludes many restaurants and bars and is seen as toothless.

The legislation aims to lower secondhand smoking risks ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics amid international calls for a smokefree Games. But ruling party lawmakers with strong ties to the tobacco and restaurant industries opted for a weakened version.

The new national law bans indoor smoking at schools, hospitals and government offices. Smoking will be allowed at existing small eateries, including those with less than 100 square meters (1,076 square feet) of customer space, which includes more than half of Japanese establishments. Larger and new eateries must limit smoking to designated rooms.

Violators can face fines of up to 300,000 yen ($2,700) for smokers and up to 500,000 yen ($4,500) for facility managers. The ban will be implemented in stages and fully enter into force in April 2020.

Source: Medical Xpress, 18 July 2018

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USA: Campaign helps smokers to quit

The ongoing Tips from Former Smokers (Tips) campaign, which features stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities, has had a considerable impact, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Tips campaign engages health care providers so that they can encourage their smoking patients to quit. In addition, resources are provided for health care providers, public health professionals, and mental health providers. More than nine million smokers were estimated to have attempted to quit during 2012 to 2015 as a result of the Tips campaign; conservative estimates indicate that over half a million smokers have quit for good.

There were 267,594 calls attributable to the Tips campaign in 2017, which ran from January 9 to July 30. An estimated 1.83 million smokers attempted to quit and 104,000 quit for good as a result of the 2014 campaign. Non-smokers reported increased conversations with family and friends about the dangers of smoking and had greater knowledge of smoking-related diseases as a result of the Tips 2012 campaign. An estimated 1.64 million smokers made a quit attempt and 100,000 smokers quit for good as a result of the 2012 campaign.

“Smokers who have seen Tips ads report greater intentions to quit within the next 30 days and next six months, and smokers who have seen the ads multiple times have even greater intentions to quit,” according to the report.

Source: Medical Xpress, 18 July 2018

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ASH Daily News for 29 June 2018


  • Tobacco giant buys stake in medical cannabis
  • North West: Burnley women urged to stop smoking


  • The protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products is live
  • Australia: WTO backs plain cigarette packets
  • China: Low funding cited as top reason for lackluster smoking control
  • China: Paternal smoking linked to miscarriage risk
  • Japan: Smoke exposure during pregnancy and infancy tied to hearing loss
  • US: Opinion: 12-year-olds can’t buy cigarettes. Why can they work in tobacco fields?

Link of the week

  • Cigarettes and Chimneys


Tobacco giant buys stake in medical cannabis

One of the UK’s biggest tobacco manufacturers is seeking to diversify from the under-pressure cigarette market by taking a stake in a start-up researching medical uses of cannabis.

Imperial Brands, the FTSE 100 company behind Winston and Gauloises cigarettes, is investing in Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies (OCT). It is thought to be the first time that a Big Tobacco company has invested in cannabis research in the UK.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “Imperial talks of there being ‘significant potential’ in cannabinoid products but they’re not a pharmaceutical company, they’re a recreational drug company. This is all about developing the expertise they need to market cannabis not as a medicine, but as a recreational drug. It’s a bad move for a start-up like OCT to besmirch its reputation by taking money from an industry responsible for killing more than seven million people a year. And it bucks the trend. Major investors all round the world, from banks and pension funds, to insurers and sovereign wealth funds, are all getting out of tobacco.”

See also: BBC, ‘Tobacco giant Imperial Brands invests in medical cannabis’

Source: The Times, 29 June 2018

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North West: Burnley women urged to stop smoking

Burnley has the second highest rate of women smokers in the country. In Burnley 25.5% of women are smokers, second only to Hastings in East Sussex, with fellow Lancashire area South Ribble having the least amount of women smokers at just 4%.

Lancashire County Council has commissioned a ‘Quit Squad’ which encourages people to stop smoking, and includes support for pregnant women to quit in partnership with midwifes, health visitors and children’s centres.

Shaun Turner, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We know how difficult it is to stop smoking, but we’re here to help. Current figures show that 16% of Lancashire’s population smokes, which is just above the national average. Rates in the county are falling. However, we are aware of tobacco use hotspots such as Burnley and our targeted work with communities will help us address them. Our aim is to cut smoking rates in Lancashire to 12% or less by 2022.”

Source: Burnley Express, 28 June 2018

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The protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products is live

On the 27 June 2018, the conditions for the entry into force of the first legally binding instrument adopted under the WHO FCTC were met. The ratification of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, meant the necessary number of Parties to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was reached, paving the way to eliminate illicit trade of tobacco products.

This achievement is a milestone in the history of tobacco control, as the Protocol contains a full range of measures to combat illicit trade distributed in three categories: preventing illicit trade, promoting law enforcement and providing the legal basis for international cooperation. Moreover, it aims to secure the supply chain of tobacco products, through licensing, due diligence and record keeping, and requires the establishment of a global tracking and tracing regime that will allow Governments to effectively follow up tobacco products from the point of production to the first point of sale.

The Parties can now hold the First session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (MOP1) in Geneva, Switzerland, from the 8th to the 10th of October 2018, following the Eighth Conference of the Parties (COP8) of the WHO FCTC.

Source: FCTC, 28 June 2018

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Australia: WTO backs plain cigarette packets

Australia has won a major trade dispute over its pioneering plain packaging for cigarettes, in a decision handed down by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Australia made it mandatory in 2011 for cigarettes to be sold in plain packets that carry health warnings. Seven years on, the WTO has rejected complaints from four nations that the laws violate international trade. Unless there is a successful appeal, the decision is expected to hasten similar regulations around the world.

“Australia has achieved a resounding victory,” its government said in a statement on Friday. Cuba, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Indonesia – all tobacco producers – had argued that plain packaging infringed on trademarks and intellectual property rights. But the WTO rejected those arguments and assertions that alternative measures could achieve an equivalent benefit to public health.

See also:
Financial Times, Australia wins landmark WTO ruling over cigarette packaging
The Guardian, ‘Resounding victory’: Australia wins tobacco plain packaging dispute
Daily Mail Online, ‘Australia wins landmark WTO ruling on plain tobacco packaging’

Source: BBC News, 29 June 2018

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China: Low funding cited as top reason for lackluster smoking control

Lack of funding has become a major obstacle to the enforcement of tobacco control regulations, according to a new report based on feedback from the governments of 18 major cities on the Chinese mainland. Wang Zhenyu, the head of the law firm that carried out the study, said “We found that lack of government funding is the biggest difficulty in tobacco control for many cities, and the problem has not improved over the past few years.”

Of the 18 cities, nine disclosed the amount of money allocated for tobacco control for 2016. Beijing was top, with total funding of about 4.8 million yuan ($724,000), followed by Guangzhou, Guangdong province, at 4.6 million yuan. Funding on all the other seven cities was below 500,000 yuan.

However, Jiang Yuan, director of the tobacco control office of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that although Beijing has placed more emphasis on tobacco control than most other cities in China, but the funding level is still far from adequate. She said, “Per capita funding is far below many other countries and regions, such as Hong Kong.”

Source: China Daily, 29 June 2018

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China: Paternal smoking linked to miscarriage risk

Would-be fathers may increase their partner’s risk of miscarriage by smoking during the pregnancy, or even during the time leading up to conception, a large study from China suggests.

Based on data for nearly 6 million pregnancies, researchers found that women whose partner smoked during the first few months of the pregnancy were 17% more likely to miscarry than women with nonsmoking partners. Women whose partners quit smoking around the time of conception had an 18% lower risk of miscarriage than those whose smoking partner didn’t quit, the study team reports in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

“Although we have known for a long time that if the mother smokes there is an increased risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes, dads who smoke also influence the ‘success’ of the pregnancy,” Dr. Alison Holloway, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Source: Reuters, 27 June 2018

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Japan: Smoke exposure during pregnancy and infancy tied to hearing loss

Kids exposed to tobacco smoke in the womb and early in infancy could have double the odds of developing hearing loss compared with children who were not exposed to tobacco at all, a Japanese study suggests.

Researchers examined data on 50,734 children born between 2004 and 2010 in Kobe City, Japan. Overall, about 4% of these kids were exposed to smoking during pregnancy or infancy, and roughly 1% had tobacco exposure during both periods.

Hearing tests done when kids were 3 years old found that 4.6% of the children had hearing loss. They were 68% more likely to have hearing loss if they were exposed to tobacco during pregnancy, and 30% more likely if they inhaled second-hand smoke during infancy, the study found. When kids had smoke exposure during both periods, they were 2.4 times more likely than unexposed kids to have hearing loss.

Source: Reuters, 28 June 2018

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US: Opinion: 12-year-olds can’t buy cigarettes. Why can they work in tobacco fields?

In the US, a 12-year-old cannot legally walk into a store and buy cigarettes, but the law allows that same child to work in a tobacco field. A 16-year-old child tobacco worker told Human Rights Watch that tobacco was “the hardest of all the crops we’ve worked in. You get tired. It takes the energy out of you. You get sick, but then you have to go right back to the tobacco the next day.”

When the seminal legislation the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938, it exempted agriculture from its extensive labor protections, including child labor. In 2011-12, the Obama administration attempted to ban teen work in tobacco, but farm groups claimed this would “kill the family farm” and the Obama administration promised to never implement them again during Obama’s tenure. Now, the Trump administration is working to remove hazardous work restrictions for students and apprentices that would allow minors to use chainsaws, meat slicers, compactors and other dangerous machinery for longer hours than currently allowed.

We call on the tobacco industry to raise the minimum age of work on tobacco farms to 18 in the US and around the world immediately. It’s bad enough that the tobacco industry is willing to kill its customers with a dangerous product; it really should move to protect the workers who produce that product.

See also: Guardian, ‘The US children working in tobacco fields’

Source: Guardian, 29 June 2018

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Link of the week

Cigarettes and Chimneys

In a short 15 minute programme, Radio 4 tells the story of how Richard Doll’s research in the 1950s identified that smoking caused lung cancer and how the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) had to weigh in to ensure that government took the evidence seriously.

When lung cancer, a new deadly disease, began to grip the nation, the NHS was focused on treatment, not prevention. Lung cancer was a disease that doctors couldn’t treat. The suggestion that something you could prevent – cigarette smoking – might be causing it, led to a radically new way of thinking about the role of the health service.

The RCP has been in the forefront of promoting this change in perspective since its seminal 1962 report Smoking and Health, and it continues to promote the role of prevention in the NHS today with its latest report Hiding in plain sight.

See also:
RCP, Smoking and Health (1962)
RCP, Hiding in plain sight: treating tobacco dependency in the NHS (2018)

Many other RCP reports are also available for free to download on the RCP website.

Source: BBC Radio 4, 25 June 2018


ASH Daily News for 25 June 2018


  • Opinion: Why don’t more young women vape?
  • Scotland: Smokers outside Larbert hospital to be fined


  • USA: Study finds large increase in number of college campuses going smokefree
  • Signs that Philip Morris’s iQOS heat-not-burn product might not be a big hit
  • China: On-screen smoking scenes in Chinese media declining


Opinion: Why don’t more young women vape?

Sophie Jarvis from the Adam Smith Institute comments on vaping trends

When it comes to tackling the harms of smoking we still seem to stick to an abstinence-only approach. It should be made easier for adults to switch to safer (but not risk-free) alternatives.

Public Health England have to their credit highlighted the relative benefits of vaping by pointing out that it’s at least 95% safer than smoking. In other words, it would take 20 non-smokers to take up vaping to outweigh the good of one smoker switching the other way.

British vaping laws aren’t that Victorian, but there’s room for improvement. While we allow vape shops and vaping in public places, e-cigarette manufacturers face stiff regulation and are prevented from talking about the relative risks of vaping compared with smoking.

The EU’s Tobacco Products Directive limits tank sizes, regulates nicotine content, and restricts the ability for e-cigarette sellers to market their products effectively. We know from other countries that heavy-handed e-cigarette laws don’t help smokers: in Australia, where e-cigarettes are banned, smokers as a proportion of the population dropped by just 0.6% between 2013-2016. By contrast, the UK’s relatively liberal approach to vaping lead to smoking rates falling by 2.9%. Japan also banned e-cigarettes, but they allow heat-not-burn products which has resulted in a significant decline in cigarette sales.

Source: Spectator, 25 June 2018

Note: The Adam Smith Institute has received money from the tobacco industry in the past

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Scotland: Smokers outside Larbert hospital to be fined

Larbet hospital in Falkirk will soon be fining those who smoke too near the hospital premises. The Scottish Government aims to make it an offence to smoke within 15 metres of hospitals, as part of a tobacco control action plan which includes 44 specific actions.

The NHS in Scotland has spent years trying to persuade smokers not to smoke in hospital grounds, and now intends to tackle the issue by bringing in new legislation.

However no final decision has been made on whether vaping should continue to be allowed around NHS facilities – the Scottish Government aims to work with health boards and integration boards to “try and reach a consensus” on the issue.

The move is part of tobacco control action plan aimed at addressing health inequalities and cutting smoking rates, particularly in deprived areas.

Source: Falkirk Herald, 22 June 2018

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USA: Study finds large increase in number of college campuses going smokefree

Smoking continues to fall out of favour at colleges and universities across America, a new study has found. As of November 2017, over 2,000 U.S. college campuses were smokefree or tobacco-free (no smokeless tobacco use or smoking), compared with only 774 campuses in 2012, the report found.

In 2017, 84% of smokefree campuses were tobacco-free, compared with 73% of smokefree campuses in 2012, according to the study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation.

“Colleges and universities are ideal places to promote healthy behaviours that can continue for a lifetime, including being tobacco-free,” Corinne Graffunder, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in an agency news release.

Source: Health Day, 22 June 2018

See also: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Smoke-Free and Tobacco-Free Policies in Colleges and Universities – United States and Territories, 2017 (page 10 of PDF download)

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Signs that Philip Morris’s iQOS heat-not-burn product might not be a big hit

Philip Morris International’s (PMI) lacklustre first-quarter earnings report has weighed heavily on the tobacco industry, after the company experienced a dramatic drop off in sales of its next-generation heat-not-burn tobacco devices in Japan. Their concern is that the device won’t be able to offset the secular decline in traditional cigarette sales.

The rollout of the iQOS heat-not-burn device marked a significant change in how Philip Morris presented itself to the public and investors. The future, Philip Morris said, was going to be smokefree, and the company took out full-page ads in newspapers calling on smokers to quit and switch to alternative products.

Japan was a seminal point for iQOS, and after rolling it out nationwide, it captured 80% of the heat-not-burn market in the country. However, PMI’s earnings report indicated it has burned through all of the early adopters of the new technology and now faced the prospect of convincing older, more conservative smokers to switch, a more difficult and costly task. It has since cut the cost of iQOS devices to try and boost sales.

Source: Yahoo Finance, 22 June 2018

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China: On-screen smoking scenes in Chinese media declining

The number of scenes depicting tobacco smoking in Chinese movies and TV series have declined overall in the last decade, according to the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control. However the figures for 2017 were worse than in 2016, according to the public health charity.

This is the 10th consecutive year the association has surveyed Chinese movies and television shows. Twenty of the top thirty movie blockbusters had at least one smoking scene last year, down 23% from 2007. The declining trend in TV series was even more apparent; 17 of the 30 most-watched shows had smoking scenes in 2017, down by 37% from 10 years ago.

Under regulations issued in 2009 and 2011 by the former State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, smoking scenes are “strictly controlled” rather than banned.

Source: China Daily, 25 June 2018

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PMI, Poverty and the Political Game

Don’t let smokescreens like the PMI-funded ‘Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’ [1] deceive you — Big Tobacco continues to pump its lethal smoked products into low- and middle-income countries, exacerbating poverty and racking up billions of dollars along the way.

As the company continues to undermine tobacco control policies across the globe, [2] [3] its solemn commitment to a smokefree future is more than a little disingenuous. [4]

Major advancements in tobacco control across countries like the UK, have displaced international conglomerates such as PMI to low- and middle-income populations, where 80% of the world’s smokers now live. [5]

In these countries, implementation of the WHO’s Framework Convention Tobacco Control (FCTC), a lifesaving treaty which reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health, has often been low. [6] Indeed, by 2014 a survey of two thirds of Parties to the Treaty found that 51 countries had implemented no measures at the highest level. [7]

But rather than mobilising to address this discrepancy and advance its shiny new smokefree agenda, PMI has been doing all it can to undermine tobacco control, both in spirit and in practice.

PMI ignores the philosophy of tobacco control by taking advantage of existing legislative loopholes and capitalising on the lack of substantive advertising restrictions in low- and middle-income countries. Though PMI promises “advertising activities are directed only toward adult smokers,” [8] its intensive marketing ploys bombard kids in countries like Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria and Uganda, with tobacco sale outlets often visible from the school gates. [9] The company also uses child-friendly flavoured cigarettes to entice young people, [10] and encourages “single stick” sales by providing retailers with free promotional materials. [11]

And by attempting to subvert further implementation of the FCTC, the company also undermines the role out of tobacco control measures. Its army of corporate lobbyists are encouraged to “play the political game” [12] and deliberately target so-called “anti-tobacco extremists” at FCTC conferences (where delegates set the guidelines) and apply pressure at the country level (where delegates are selected and the treaty is transposed into law). [13]

One popular method has been to water down the health minister delegates with trade, finance and agriculture representatives, since these people are more likely to be supportive of PMI’s deadly cause — a strategy that somewhat contradicts its smokefree advocacy. [14]

It is unsurprising that 80% of the world’s tobacco-related deaths are anticipated to occur in low- and middle-income countries by 2030. [15] And in addition to the personal tragedy of life lost, this is leaving less money available for food, schooling and doctors’ fees, since spending on tobacco products can add up to over 10% of total household earnings, and premature death causes a significant loss of income. [16]

Meanwhile, even though undernourishment remains a big problem in many tobacco-producing countries, 4.3 million hectares of arable land is currently gobbled up by tobacco cultivation, which could instead be used to feed hungry people. [17] Growing tobacco also pollutes water supplies with toxic pesticides and fertilizers, and generates over 2 million tonnes of solid waste each year. [18] In fact, cigarette butts account for 30–40% of all rubbish picked up in coastal and urban clean-ups. [19]

And the worst part is that this social, economic and environmental burden is falling upon those countries least equipped to deal with the consequences.

PMI’s website reads “Society expects us to act responsibly. And we are doing just that by designing a smoke-free future.” [20] But evidently for PMI that responsibility and that future are not intended for low- and middle-income countries.

With PMI’s AGM set for this week, ASH urges the company to ditch its blatant double standards.


by Anna Hazelwood



[1] Tobacco Tactics, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, March 2018

[2] The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Big Tobacco: Tiny Targets, a project by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

[3] African Tobacco Control Alliance, Big Tobacco Tiny Targets: Tobacco Industry Targets Schools in Africa, November 2016

[4] Philip Morris International, Designing a Smoke-Free Future

[5] World Health Organisation, Tobacco Key Facts, 9 March 2018

[6] Gravely et al, Implementation of key demand-reduction measures of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and change in smoking prevalence in 126 countries: an association study, 2017

[7] Gravely et al, Implementation of key demand-reduction measures of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and change in smoking prevalence in 126 countries: an association study, 2017

[8] Philip Morris International, Underage tobacco and nicotine use

[9] African Tobacco Control Alliance, Big Tobacco Tiny Targets: Tobacco Industry Targets Schools in Africa, November 2016

[10] African Tobacco Control Alliance, Big Tobacco Tiny Targets: Tobacco Industry Targets Schools in Africa, November 2016

[11] African Tobacco Control Alliance, Sale of single sticks of cigarettes in Africa: survey report from 10 capital cities, March 2018

[12] Reuters, Inside Philip Morris’ campaign to subvert the global anti-smoking treaty, July 2017

[13] Reuters, Inside Philip Morris’ campaign to subvert the global anti-smoking treaty, July 2017

[14] Reuters, Inside Philip Morris’ campaign to subvert the global anti-smoking treaty, July 2017

[15] World Health Organisation, The Global Tobacco Crisis, 2008

[16] World Health Organisation, Tobacco is a deadly threat to global development, May 2017

[17] World Health Organisation, Tobacco and its environmental impact, 2017

[18] World Health Organisation, Tobacco is a deadly threat to global development, May 2017

[19] World Health Organisation, Tobacco is a deadly threat to global development, May 2017

[20] Philip Morris International, Designing a Smoke-Free Future

All links active 9 May 2018

Big tobacco’s big little lies on Twitter

“Giving back to the community matters to PMI. In #Mexico our team donated gifts to local organizations that help vulnerable youth. #InsidePMI”

This Tweet, published in 2017 by Philip Morris International, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, is part of a strategic communication plan to reshape the battered reputation of the tobacco industry. In reality, for a company that targets these same vulnerable youth to use its deadly products, the donation of “gifts” is little more than corporate window dressing.

Tweets of this nature are not uncommon. Our paper published in Tobacco Control found that 21% of tweets published by transnational tobacco companies highlighted the supposed positive impact that they are having on society and the environment. [1] Our study analysed all 3301 tweets published by British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco International, up until May 2017, to uncover common themes. Tweets that critiqued or opposed tobacco control policies were found to be the most common, making up over 30% of the total number of tweets analysed.

A communication platform for false and misleading information

The tobacco industry has a long history of opposing tobacco control policy and promoting socially responsible business practices. However, with the rapid rise of social media platforms like Twitter, tobacco companies are enabled to readily and easily communicate these messages in a public domain. Online communications through social media are poorly regulated and the tobacco industry is attempting to take advantage of this. The industry has a platform where they can publish information that is either false or misleading, with little to no retribution.

Take this tweet for example:

“Myth 5: Tobacco Control said #plainpacks would stop young ppl from taking up smoking. Govt stats show this isn’t true”

This was published by Imperial Brands PLC in 2014, despite published evidence that showed plain packaging reduces the appeal of cigarette packs to adolescents. [2] Many other tweets were found to be misleading as the information published either only told half the story or painted the tobacco industry in a very positive light. The following tweet was published by British American Tobacco, despite the fact that the tobacco industry is the cause of 1.5 billion hectors of deforestation since the 1970s:

“140 million trees planted between 2007 and 2012 through our afforestation programmes #trees #afforestation”

British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco International’s Twitter accounts also frequently tweeted about being favourable employers and the benefits that employees receive. Almost 20% of all tweets were of this nature. The “Top Employer” award was heavily promoted across all accounts. On the surface this award appears to be notable, but certification can be received by virtually any company upon application to the ‘Top Employers Institute’ — a small not-for-profit organisation in the Netherlands.

“We’re proud to be frequently rated as a top employer around the world #wearebat #topemployer” (British American Tobacco)

In tobacco control research, intelligence on tobacco industry strategies to oppose public health was once drawn from annual reports, leaked tobacco industry documents, court cases and websites. Now, the tobacco industry has an online platform where they can also publish and promote their key messages openly and freely, even when false or misleading. But for the first time, it is possible to also engage with and respond to this messages in real time.

Comprehensive regulation is needed

Tighter regulation of online activities by tobacco companies is urgently needed. While it could be argued that the reach of these PR messages on Twitter is small and inconsequential, they form part of a wider plan to insert the tobacco industry as a key partner in public health and to weaken tobacco control. [3]

Australia has signed and ratified the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and is bound by the terms of the treaty. Guidelines to the implementation of Article 13 of the WHO FCTC outline that publically promoting corporate social responsibility initiatives is a form of sponsorship, and should be included in comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship.

Equally important is the need for current gaps in the WHO FCTC to be addressed. Although Article 13 of the FCTC includes cross-border advertising, implementation guidelines are yet to be developed in an operational way. This should be made a priority to ensure the WHO FCTC’s enforcement is comprehensive, relevant for today’s changing media landscape and free of loopholes that the industry can exploit.

Tobacco advertising and promotion has been banned in Australia for decades, yet tobacco companies are continuing to falsely promote themselves as ‘good corporate citizens’, alongside strongly opposing evidence-based tobacco control polices on publicly on social media. These strategies serve only to promote the tobacco industry’s interests and its deadly products.


by Christina Watts, Becky Freeman and Marita Hefler


[1] Watts C, Hefler M, Freeman B. ‘We have a rich heritage and, we believe, a bright future’: how transnational tobacco companies are using Twitter to oppose policy and shape their public identity. Tobacco Control. 2018.

[2] Germain D, Wakefield MA, Durkin SJ. Adolescents’ perceptions of cigarette brand image: does plain packaging make a difference? J Adolesc Health. 2010;46:385–92.

[3] Daube M, Moodie R, McKee M. Towards a smoke-free world? Philip Morris International’s new Foundation is not credible. The Lancet. 2018.

Article originally published at Croakey.

Tobacco Industry Marketing Aimed At Children.

Students in Indonesia buy single cigarettes without age identification at a kiosk after school. Photo by Michelle Siu


Despite increasing government regulation of tobacco marketing globally, children and young people are still being targeted by tobacco companies like British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris International (PMI).

Two thirds of all smokers begin as children under the age of 18 and this is an essential window of opportunity for the tobacco industry as only a small proportion of adults take up smoking. Unless Big Tobacco can succeed in getting this reservoir of young “replacement smokers” [1] hooked, it faces a dying market as half of all adult smokers die prematurely, amounting to millions of lost customers every year. [2] This drives companies like BAT and PMI’s need for their products to be bought by children and young people.

Youth-orientated marketing initiatives are particularly dangerous as research shows that exposure to cigarette promotion from a young age creates a positive association with smoking, making it more difficult for addicted smokers to quit.

The African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) published a report last year [1] showing how tobacco companies including BAT and PMI persuade consumers to use their products in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Benin, Nigeria, and Uganda. Both of these companies conduct intensive marketing and promotional campaigns to encourage tobacco usage among children by targeting the areas around schools.

They do so through four key strategies: advertising and promotion, sale of single cigarettes, sale of child-friendly flavoured cigarettes, and non-compliance with existing tobacco control laws.

ATCA’s research found high numbers of cigarette promotion and sales near schools, just the sort of promotion that is banned in the UK. “In Burkina Faso, 100% of the schools surveyed have stores in the surroundings that advertise cigarettes. In Cameroon, 85% of the schools have stores in the vicinity that promote cigarettes on the counter. In Uganda, 100% of the schools have stores in the vicinity that promote cigarettes behind the counter. In Benin, 100% of the schools surveyed have stores around selling flavoured cigarettes. Similar products are being sold respectively around 55% and 25% of schools in Cameroon and Uganda.” [1]

Enticing flavours coupled with the ease of access to cigarettes, particularly through the sale of individual cigarettes, has been shown to encourage higher rates of smoking among children and adds to the overall growing epidemic of tobacco usage in these five countries.

Though there have been attempts at regulation, companies such as BAT and PMI either directly hamper public health policy initiatives [3], flout the lawaltogether [4], or find new ways to promote products to children. The public must press for greater government regulation and enforcement to prevent the promotion of cigarettes to children.

Here’s how you can: #ActOnTobacco


[1] African Tobacco Control Alliance. Big tobacco tiny targets: Tobacco industry targets schools in Africa. November 2016.
[2] Kessler judgement :US District Court for the District of Columbia Civil Action №99–2496 (GK) USA Plaintiff v. PMI (USA) defendant et al. Final judgement 2006.
[3] Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Tobacco. 15 February 2015.
[4] Mosupi A. African children the latest target for tobacco companies — ATCA. Times Live. 7 December 2016.

PMI IMPACT: Controlling research. Controlling policy?


This article was written by Allen Gallagher & Karen Evans-Reeves, Tobacco Control Research Group, University of Bath

In 2016, Philip Morris International (PMI) launched PMI IMPACT — a funding initiative pledging US$100 million for projects “dedicated to fighting illegal trade and related crimes”. [1] In its first funding call last year, public organisations, law enforcement, private entities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were all encouraged to submit proposals focusing specifically on the illicit tobacco trade in the European Union (EU).

Submitted proposals were judged by an expert panel, consisting of seven individuals with very close links to various United Nations agencies. PMI IMPACT is not the first research funding initiative from the tobacco company. In 2000, the company launched the PMI External Research Program (PMERP), which administered grants to scientists for research on multiple topics, including non-tobacco causes of cardiovascular diseases and genetic susceptibility to cancers.

Such initiatives are tied to the tobacco industry’s long history of producing misleading research, beginning with its attempts in the early 1950s to discredit the then newly-proven causal link between smoking and lung cancer. [2] Calls for new research on a particular topic carry with them the underlying suggestion that pre-existing research is flawed or lacking.

PMI IMPACT can be seen as another attempt at controlling the discourse around science, this time around illicit trade research, and its outcomes, thereby influencing policy outcomes.

The illicit tobacco trade is one of several policy areas where the tobacco industry is attempting to not only gain access to the policy process, but also to take part in this process as a valued expert and stakeholder.

However, given the industry’s historic complicity in the illicit trade, [3] its questionable pre-existing research [4] on the topic and its repeated use of illicit trade as a counter argument to the further regulation of its products, [5] its motives in launching PMI IMPACT are arguably spurious. In 2004, PMI paid the EU $1.25 billion to settle claims over the company’s involvement in tobacco smuggling, and committed to produce an annual ‘Project Star’ report about illicit tobacco in the EU. [6] These reports were created by the global accountancy firm KPMG and have been widely criticised by academics. [7] Operation Henry data, produced by the UK Government’s Trading Standards Institute revealed that in 2014 72% of illicit cigarettes seized in the UK were genuine smuggled brands without UK Duty being paid. [8] In the past, when genuine brands have been smuggled like this, the tobacco industry has been accused of being complicit by failing to control their supply chain. [9]

Here’s how you can #ActOnTobacco:

  • Share your stories of the exploitation caused by tobacco using #ActOnTobacco
  • Write to PMI — @InsidePMI and ask them what they are doing to prevent the sumggling of illicit tobacco products
  • When reading research related to the tobacco industry, always question where the research comes from and who paid for it
  • Contact your pension provider to ask them if they invest in the tobacco industry. If so, ask them to disinvest.


[1] PMI, PMI Impact homepage, Available from: (archived PMI Impact page accessed 27 April 2017)

[2] A. M. Brandt, Inventing conflicts of interest: A history of tobacco industry tactics, American Journal of Public Health, 2012, 102(1), 63–71

[3] Rowell A, Evans-Reeves KA. Tobacco industry rallies against illicit trade — but have we forgotten its complicity? The Conversation, 16 March 2015. Available from: [Accessed 27 April 2017]

[4] Gilmore AB, Rowell A, Gallus S et al. Towards a greater understanding of the illicit tobacco trade in Europe: a review of the PMI funded ‘Project Star’ report. Tobacco Control, 2014; 23(e1): e51–61. Available from: [Accessed 27 April 2017]

[5] Rowell A, Evans-Reeves KA, Gilmore AB. Tobacco industry manipulation of data on and press coverage of the illicit tobacco trade in the UK Tobacco Control, 2014,23(e1):e35-e43. Available from: [Accessed 27 April 2017]
Evans-Reeves KA, Hatchard J, Gilmore AB, ‘It will harm business and increase illicit trade’: an evaluation of the relevance, quality and transparency of evidence submitted by transnational tobacco companies to the UK consultation on standardised packaging 2012. Tobacco Control, 2015,24(e2):e168-e177. Available from: [Accessed 27 April 2017]

[6] Philip Morris International Inc., Philip Morris Products Inc., Philip Morris Duty Free Inc., et al. Anti-contraband and Anti-counterfeit Agreement and General Release. European Commission. 9 July 2004
Gilmore AB, Rowell A, Gallus S et al. Towards a greater understanding of the illicit tobacco trade in Europe: a review of the PMI funded ‘Project Star’ report. Tobacco Control, 2014; 23(e1): e51–61. Available from: [Accessed 27 April 2017]

[7] Scollo M, Zacher M, Durkin S, et al. Early evidence about the predicted unintended consequences of standardised packaging of tobacco products in Australia: a cross-sectional study of the place of purchase, regular brands and use of illicit tobacco. BMJ Open;4:e005873. Available from: [Accessed 27 April 2017]

[8] Trajectory. Turning point: Insights into illicit tobacco in the UK.SICPA. July 2016.

[9] Select Committee on Public Accounts, Minutes of evidence questions 540–559, examination of Mr Gareth Davis, Mr Bruce Davidson and Mr John Dibble, 19 June 2002. Available from: [Accessed 27 April 2017]

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. January 2017.

Download here.







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 the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids summarise the tribunal’s findings.


Key Findings
PMI v Uruguay ruling - key findings CTFK 2016

Joint submission to the Uruguay proceedings by WHO and the FCTC Secretariat.