Beyond Business As Usual: Big Tobacco Takes Advantage of the Pandemic

For Big Tobacco, COVID-19—for which smoking is a known risk factor— has been leveraged as a global opportunity to “gain influence, meddle in life-saving health policies and secure preferential treatment,” leaving no region immune from industry sway, according to a new report from STOP, an industry watchdog.
The report, penned by civil society groups spanning 80 countries, found that the industry opened up new markets for electronic products as increases in tobacco taxes were waylaid.

  • In 31 countries, government efforts to crack down on industry influence deteriorated; in 18 countries they improved.
  • From Egypt to Lebanon and Spain, industry successfully lobbied governments to sell new products.
  • At least 11 countries that received industry donations compromised on taxing the industry’s products, including Argentina, Czech Republic, Turkey, and Zambia.

Who stood up to Big Tobacco? The report singles out Botswana, India, Chile, and Spain for ramping up efforts to protect health policy.

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