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Corporate social responsibility and the tobacco industry: hope or hype?
  1. N Hirschhorn
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Norbert Hirschhorn
 Nastolantie 6, A3 00600 Helsinki, Finland;


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) emerged from a realisation among transnational corporations of the need to account for and redress their adverse impact on society: specifically, on human rights, labour practices, and the environment. Two transnational tobacco companies have recently adopted CSR: Philip Morris, and British American Tobacco. This report explains the origins and theory behind CSR; examines internal company documents from Philip Morris showing the company’s deliberations on the matter, and the company’s perspective on its own behaviour; and reflects on whether marketing tobacco is antithetical to social responsibility.

  • ASH, Action on Smoking and Health
  • BAT, British American Tobacco
  • CERES, Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies
  • CSR, corporate social responsibility
  • DJSI, Dow Jones Sustainability Index
  • GCAC, Global Corporate Affairs Council
  • GRI, Global Reporting Initiative
  • MSA, Master Settlement Agreement
  • NGOs, non-governmental organisations
  • PM, Philip Morris
  • TNCs, transnational corporations
  • UNEP, United Nations Environment Program
  • corporate social responsibility
  • tobacco industry documents

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  • * Including the International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility at the University of Nottingham, UK, funded by British American Tobacco.

  • Contrariwise, there is also a “vice fund” for tobacco, alcohol, gambling and weapons corporations’ shares. BAT and Altria/Philip Morris are top performers.

  • See, “social report” and “download centre”.

  • § Webb may have been referring to the development of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).