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Tactics of the tobacco industry in an Arab nation: a review of tobacco documents in Oman
  1. Jawad A Al-Lawati1,
  2. Stella A Bialous2
  1. 1Department of Primary Health Care, Ministry of Health, Muscat, Oman
  2. 2Center for Tobacco Control, UCSF, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jawad A Al-Lawati, Department of Primary Health Care, Ministry of Health Oman, Muscat 100, Oman; jallawati{at}gmail.com

Abstract

Background Few studies have investigated tobacco industry interference in the tobacco control policies of Arab nations. This paper explores the tactics used by the industry to subvert tobacco control policies in Oman and offers lessons on how to prevent such interference in the future.

Methods We searched the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Archive using the word ‘Oman’, names of government institutions, policymakers and local tobacco distributors. Extracted data were noted chronologically by key elements of tobacco control measures. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Health Ministers’ Council resolutions on tobacco control were also reviewed.

Results Out of 1020 tobacco documents located, 327 were closely related to policy interference. Documents revealed that the industry met key government officials, offered in-kind services, used local diplomatic missions to influence Omani policymakers, opposed smoking bans, delayed regulations to lower tar and nicotine content of cigarettes, and to require effective health warnings, circumvented a tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship ban and provided voluntary codes as an alternative to effective regulations. Additionally, industry representatives lobbied individual countries in the GCC to veto tax increments and defeat consensus on agreed resolutions of the Health Ministers’ Council.

Conclusion The tobacco industry interfered in all key public health policies aimed to reduce tobacco use in Oman. There is an urgent need for the Omani government to enforce the Civil Code of Conduct and develop guidelines for all policymakers through implementing Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to curb the tobacco epidemic.

  • tobacco industry
  • advertising and promotion
  • tobacco industry documents

Data availability statement

Data are available in a public, open access repository. Data are available upon reasonable request. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. Any article which is not available publicly can be provided by the author.

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Data availability statement

Data are available in a public, open access repository. Data are available upon reasonable request. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. Any article which is not available publicly can be provided by the author.

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Footnotes

  • Contributors JAA-L conceptualised the study, collected the data, analysed the data and wrote the paper. SAB analysed the data and contributed to writing, editing and revising the paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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