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Worldwide news and comment
  1. Marita Hefler
  1. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Marita Hefler; marita.hefler{at}

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World: the tangled web of hidden tobacco industry influence

All articles written by Marita Hefler unless otherwise attributed. Ideas and items for News Analysis should be sent to:

Recent reports and analyses highlight the many avenues available to the tobacco industry to undermine global tobacco control. While the tobacco industry has a long record of actions to directly undermine Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), it also continues to cultivate relationships and influence through other channels that can undermine the FCTC both directly and indirectly.

A paper recently published by Tobacco Control which analysed the Brussels Declaration, a statement of ethics and principles for science and society policy-making, demonstrated the extent to which tobacco (and alcohol) industry actors were involved in its formulation. A detailed content analysis shows that the Declaration, which has the potential to be highly influential, has significant transparency flaws and appears to be a vehicle for advancing the vested interests of certain corporate sectors. (The full paper, Brussels Declaration: a vehicle for the advancement of tobacco and alcohol industry interests at the science/policy interface? is available open access at

In July 2018, a report titled Highjacking the SDGs? The private sector and sustainable development goals, was published by a coalition of non-government organisations in Germany. The report (available at includes a case study of how the tobacco industry uses the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a broad strategy to circumvent regulation, despite the fact that all of the four major transnational tobacco companies (Philip Morris International (PMI), British American Tobacco (BAT), Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Brands) ostensibly support the SDGs and indeed were among the earliest adopters of SDG rhetoric.

As the report notes, tobacco and alcohol are the only two consumer products to be explicitly mentioned in the SDGs (goal 3). While the focus in the …

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