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Tobacco industry attempts to influence and use the German government to undermine the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Abstract

Background Germany has been identified as one of a few high-income countries that opposed a strong Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the WHO's first global public health treaty. This paper examines whether the tobacco industry had influenced the German position on the FCTC.

Methods Analysis of previously confidential tobacco industry documents.

Results The tobacco industry has identified Germany as a key target within its global strategy against the FCTC. Building on an already supportive base, the industry appears to have successfully lobbied the German government, influencing Germany's position and argumentation on key aspects of the FCTC. It then used Germany in its efforts to weaken the FCTC. The evidence suggests that the industry enjoyed success in undermining the Federal Health Ministry's position and using Germany to limit the European Union negotiating mandate. The tactics used by the tobacco industry included the creation of controversy between the financial, trade and other ministries on one side and the health ministry on the other side, the use of business associations and other front groups to lobby on the industry's behalf and securing industry access to the FCTC negotiations via the International Standardization Organization.

Conclusion The evidence suggests that Germany played a major role in the tobacco industry's efforts to undermine the FCTC. Germany's position consistently served to protect industry interests and was used to influence and constrain other countries. Germany thus contributed significantly to attempts to weaken an international treaty and, in doing so, failed in its responsibility to advance global health.

  • FCTC
  • tobacco industry
  • Germany
  • policy influence
  • public policy
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