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New Investigation Finds that British American Tobacco is Secretly Backing “Anti-Smoking” Group to Undermine Tobacco Control Policies

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
January 11, 2022

WASHINGTON, DC – A new investigation by the Daily Beast has revealed that British American Tobacco, the world’s largest publicly traded tobacco company, is the driving force behind the World Vapers’ Alliance – a pro-vaping front group masquerading as a grassroots initiative of anti-smoking advocates. 

According to the investigation, British American Tobacco sought to use the World Vapers’ Alliance to organize individuals to pressure government officials, including members of the European parliament, to roll back regulations on tobacco products such as bans on flavored products, health warnings and increased taxes. 

British American Tobacco went to great lengths to conceal its involvement with the World Vapers’ Alliance, according to the investigation. Yet, sources and internal documents reviewed as part of the investigation revealed that British American Tobacco “has played a central and hands-on role in orchestrating, directing, and funding the World Vapers’ Alliance.”  

For decades, tobacco companies have secretly created, funded and orchestrated independent-sounding front groups to undermine proven public health policies around the world. From casting doubts on the health harms of tobacco use to lobbying governments to roll back measures designed to drive down rates of tobacco use, front groups like the World Vapers’ Alliance have long been the foundation of Big Tobacco’s playbook. 

Tobacco companies like British American Tobacco claim that they are changed, responsible companies working to reduce the enormous harm caused by their products. But their actions tell a different story and show that they continue to use the same deceptive tactics they have always used, including front groups, to fight public health policies and protect their sales and profits. This revelation should serve as a wake-up call to government officials around the world. The World Vapers’ Alliance is far from the only front group doing Big Tobacco’s bidding around the world. Our message is simple: if it sounds like Big Tobacco, it probably is Big Tobacco.