Article Text

The revision of the 2014 European tobacco products directive: an analysis of the tobacco industry's attempts to ‘break the health silo’
  1. Silvy Peeters1,
  2. Hélia Costa2,
  3. David Stuckler2,3,
  4. Martin McKee3,
  5. Anna B Gilmore1
  1. 1Department for Health, University of Bath, and member of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS), UK
  2. 2Department of Sociology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  3. 3Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Silvy Peeters, Department for Health, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY, UK; s.peeters{at}


Background The 2014 European Union (EU) Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) was negotiated in a changed policy context, following adoption of the EU's ‘Smart Regulation’ agenda, which transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) anticipated would increase their influence on health policy, and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which sought to reduce it. This study aims to explore the scale and nature of the TTCs' lobby against the EU TPD and evaluate how these developments have affected their ability to exert influence.

Methods Analysis of 581 documents obtained through freedom of information requests, 28 leaked Philip Morris International (PMI) documents, 17 TTC documents from the Legacy Library, web content via Google alerts and searches of the EU institutions' websites, plus four stakeholder interviews.

Results The lobby was massive. PMI alone employed over 160 lobbyists. Strategies mainly used third parties. Efforts to 'Push' (amend) or 'Delay' the proposal and block 'extreme policy options' were partially successful, with plain packaging and point of sales display ban removed during the 3-year delay in the Commission. The Smart Regulation mechanism contributed to changes and delays, facilitating meetings between TTC representatives (including ex-Commission employees) and senior Commission staff. Contrary to Article 5.3, these meetings were not disclosed.

Conclusions During the legislative process, Article 5.3 was not consistently applied by non-health Directorates of the European Commission, while the tools of the Smart Regulation appear to have facilitated TTC access to, and influence on, the 2014 TPD. The use of third parties undermines Article 5.3.

  • Public policy
  • Tobacco industry
  • Tobacco industry documents

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

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