Tobacco Industry Watch

The Tobacco Industry (TI): “Unlawful, deceptive and lethal”

US Supreme Court ruling

ASH wants the tobacco industry to take the same level of responsibility other businesses are expected to take for the safety and wellbeing of their consumers and the public – especially young people.

Below are links to just some of what they’ve been doing instead.

WHERE ARE THEY? – their worldwide “Cigarette Citadels” mapped at Stanford Uni

TOBACCO INDUSTRY DOCUMENTS – Legacy library, Uni of San Francisco

Plain packagingsee the TI’s history of opposition to ending their packet advertising.

Big Tobacco: a story of lies, fraud and deceit

Great comic strip by “Gus” for our partner organisation the Australian Council on Smoking and Health. Tells the story of the tobacco industry in a nutshell –
with some real quotes from industry leaders.

What’s a life worth? The truth about tobacco

Snappy 3-minute video from American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation outlines the global tobacco burden and devious tactics employed by the tobacco industry to addict new users – mostly children. Find out what the industry makes per tobacco death.


Their products kill 5 million a year – so who are these people? Not just the three big companies but also their many stakeholders and supporters.


Read the latest on the industry’s many misdeeds, recent court cases, reports, internal documents and more. Some lowlights include:

  • misinforming governments and the public
  • making legal and economic threats to governments
  • seeking unhealthy influence over governments and politicians
  • hiding health harm
  • duping smokers with false suggestions of “safer” products
  • using marketing strategies known to be attractive to children
  • using front groups and associated entities


As one door closes, the tobacco industry tries to get around or under it – or forces another one wider open. See some of the tricky new marketing and promotional manoeuvres by tobacco companies to slip past those inconvenient advertising laws.


The tobacco industry has a long history of interfering in public health policy – blocking, weakening, delaying and undermining measures to reduce smoking. WHO report 2009 Under Article 5.3 of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Australia has an obligation at all levels of government to end this interference.

WHO has chosen “Tobacco Industry Interference” as the theme of World No Tobacco Day, May 31 2012. The campaign will focus on the need to expose and counter the industry’s brazen and increasingly aggressive attempts to undermine the FCTC because of the serious danger these tactics pose to public health.

Redefining “proof”

2011 paper in American Journal of Public Health, “Inventing Conflicts of Interest: A History of Tobacco Industry Tactics”, shows how, over many years and with great care, tobacco industry PR experts have shaped the way scientists, policymakers, media and the public, define scientific “proof”.

Tobacco tactics in low-income countries

2012 paper in Cancer Causes and Control, “The vector of the tobacco epidemic: tobacco industry practices in low and middle-income countries”. Reviews literature including industry documents to show how tobacco companies use similar tactics in low-middle income countries as they use in richer countries.


Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

World Health Organisation treaty – see Article 5.3. Australia, among hundreds of countries, has obligations to prevent tobacco industry interference in policy-making. Implementation guide.


Tobacco companies and their allies continue to muddy the waters: undermining research, covering up, and fostering myths about smoking, secondhand smoke and popular measures to counter it. Links to useful sites that answer these myths.

Taking Action: Resources

ASH Australia’s Countering Tobacco Tactics

A guide to identifying, monitoring and preventing tobacco industry interference in public health. It is a step by step guide (2010) to the industry’s current tactics in Australia and how to expose and counter them.

Social Media

See here for a BBC discussion of plain cigarette packaging. Online social media is a useful tool for making your voice heard about attitudes to smoking and to counter industry propaganda.

The Golden Holocaust by Robert Proctor (2012)

Says the blurb from Uni of California: The cigarette is the deadliest artefact in the history of human civilization…. also one of the most beguiling, thanks to more than a century of manipulation at the hands of tobacco industry chemists…. Proctor draws on reams of formerly-secret industry documents to explore how the cigarette came to be the most widely-used drug on the planet…. paints a harrowing picture of tobacco manufacturers conspiring to block the recognition of tobacco-cancer hazards, even as they ensnare legions of scientists and politicians in a web of denial.