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Allegations Against British American Tobacco Reinforce Why Big Tobacco Has No Place in Public Health Policy

Statement of Bintou Camara Bityeki, Director of Africa Programs, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
September 14, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An investigation by BBC Panorama, the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath and global industry watchdog STOP alleges that British American Tobacco (BAT) bribed government officials to influence tobacco control policies and engaged in underhanded strategies to gain market advantages in African countries.

Governments across Africa must take these allegations seriously. The investigation into BAT’s behavior shows the company’s complete disregard for the laws of the countries in which it operates.

The report reminds governments that they must be ever-vigilant against the tobacco industry’s efforts to defeat life-saving measures to reduce tobacco use and nicotine addiction. Rather than giving in to the industry, governments can save lives by implementing proven measures that protect the health of their citizens from the dangers of tobacco industry products as called for by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, including those aimed at preventing tobacco industry interference in public health policy. These allegations further prove that companies like BAT cannot be trusted and will only continue to engage in corrupt activities to maintain profits.

Tobacco use kills eight million people worldwide each year and is projected to kill one billion people worldwide this century unless countries take effective action. The vast majority of these deaths will occur in low- and middle-income countries like those featured in the investigation.