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All articles written by Marita Hefler unless otherwise attributed. Ideas and items for News Analysis should be sent to: marita.hefler@menzies.edu.au

WORLD: US CHAMBER OF COMMERCE SHILLS FOR BIG TOBACCO

In 2009, when tobacco plain packaging legislation was first being considered in Australia, the president of the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington made a submission to the country's preventative health taskforce, which was appointed by the Australian Government to provide recommendations about national tobacco control measures.

At the time, the move by the US group was considered highly unusual. Although internal tobacco industry documents made public during the US tobacco trials showed the US Chamber of Commerce had long had a cosy relationship with big tobacco to influence USA domestic policy, the attempt to do so in another country marked a turning point.

Now, it has been revealed that the US Chamber, which spends more on lobbying than any other US interest group, is engaged in a global, systematic approach to fight tobacco control measures. Investigative reports in the New York Times, together with a report titled US Chamber of Commerce: Blowing Smoke for Big Tobacco published in July 2015 by a coalition of health and civil society organisations, have documented the extensive tactics by the both the US Chamber and its network of more than 100 local affiliates (known internationally as AmCham).

Countries that have been targeted by the US Chamber and/or local AmCham branches include Nepal, Jamaica, Uruguay, Moldova, the Philippines, El Salvador, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Croatia, Estonia, Ireland, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine. It has also been an active lobbyist for the tobacco industry in EU policy making.

The reports detailed a three-pronged approach that includes bullying governments with direct lobbying and letters from the US Chamber or its local affiliate. The letters typically open by noting that the chamber is the world's largest business federation, …

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