March 5, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Tobacco companies use same political and marketing strategies to spread disease in developing as developed countries

Sungkyu Lee, Pam Ling, and I just published "The vector of the tobacco epidemic: tobacco industry practices in low and middle-income countries" in Cancer Causes and Control.  This paper reviews the available literature -- largely based on previously secret tobacco industry documents available at the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, to show that the multinational tobacco companies use essentially the same strategies and tactics in low and middle income countries as they have used in richer countries.

The companies’ strategies used in low and middle-income countries followed four main themes—economic activity; marketing/promotion; political activity; and deceptive/manipulative activity. Economic activity, including foreign investment and smuggling, was used to enter new markets. Political activities included lobbying, offering voluntary self-regulatory codes, and mounting corporate social responsibility campaigns. Deceptive activities included manipulation of science and use of third-party allies to oppose smoke-free policies, delay other tobacco-control policies, and maintain support of policymakers and the public for a pro-tobacco industry policy environment. The companies used tactics for marketing, advertising, and promoting their brands that were tailored to specific market environments. These activities included direct and indirect tactis, targeting particular populations, and introducing new tobacco products designed to limit marketing restrictions and taxes, maintain the social acceptability of tobacco use, and counter tobacco-control efforts.
 As required by FCTC Article 5.3, to counter tobacco industry pressures and to implement effective tobacco-control policies, governments and health professionals in low and middle-income countries should fully understand TTCs practices and counter them.
The full paper is available here.

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