The tobacco industry tried to undermine smoking bans in many Muslim countries, attempting to recruit Islamic scholars and reinterpret religious teachings, according to an investigation by Mark Petticrew from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine demonstrated.
Relying on a cache of industry documents from the 1970s to the late 1990s, the research revealed the efforts of British and American tobacco companies to preserve its business interests in Islamic countries. In one document Philip Morris report targeted the WHO for teaming up with “Moslem fundamentalists who view smoking as evil,” framing it as an ideological threat to their business.
Petticrew expressed his amazement over the discoveries, commenting, “You couldn’t make it up’ comes to mind … The thing that jumps out at me from all this is the fact that we had tobacco industry lawyers actually developing theological arguments. That was pretty surprising.”