TI’s Dirty Dozen Tactics in 2019

16 December 2019

As we come to the end of 2019, we recount some of the worst industry tactics for the year (thumbs down) that was inflicted on the ASEAN region. The ASEAN tobacco industry monitoring (TIM) network, formed this year, monitored and identified several of these tactics.

We also acknowledge that some activities were undertaken both at the regional and country level to counter several of these industry tactics. We anticipate the tobacco industry will continue with these tactics and probably even more next year. It is up to us to step-up our efforts to expose and fight these brazen activities.

International/ Regional
1.     Philip Morris International (PMI) funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World hijacks SEATCA’s Smoke-Free Index FSFW announced it is launching the “world first smoke-free index” which is a copycat of SEATCA’s regional smoke-free index developed in 2016.
2.     PMI released its annual CSR report handing out its CSR grants

Asia remains the main target of PMI’s CSR programs which undermine implementation of TAPS ban.


3.     Indonesia: still allows tobacco sponsorship of sports PT Djarum sponsors badminton enabling it to come into direct contact with children. Indonesia is the only country in Asia that still allows tobacco sponsorship in sports. https://bit.ly/2RYF0wp
4.     Philippines: Marlboro sales increase Sales of Marlboro increased in 2019. Lucio Tan’s LTG’s including its tobacco business under PMFTC Inc., (Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp), reported a net income of PHP 9.61 billion—40% higher than the PHP 6.86 billion in 2018. The higher earning is largely due to increased sales of Marlboro cigarettes. https://bit.ly/35nanEu
5.     Malaysia: PMI begins advertising its ‘UNSMOKE’ campaign in the newspaper PMI teamed up with financial newspaper, The Edge Malaysia and launched “UNSMOKE” exhibition which enabled the tobacco company to begin advertising in newspapers. https://bit.ly/38JIpVQ 
6.     Indonesia: PMI’s subsidiary PT HM Sampoerna signed MOU with Ministry of Research, Technology & Higher Education 25 May: The Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education is giving out  grants to several state polytechnics and universities to conduct tobacco research in collaboration with PT HM Sampoernahttps://bit.ly/36AjdyS
7. Philippines: Juul fighting governments efforts to regulate Juul was launched in the Philippines in June and is opposing the government’s proposal to raise taxes on e-cigarettes. During hearings in the Philippine senate in September, president of Juul Labs Asia-Pacific admitted, “We have done some things that we are not proud of in the past but we have taken aggressive and industry leading actions to mitigate any risks of exposing our products to youth or appealing to youth.” https://bit.ly/2YMP2lq
8. Indonesia – Juul started sales in September Juul entered the Indonesian market in July with local partner PT Erajaya Swasembada Tbk, a distributor of Apple Inc.’s iPhones. All promotions are conducted mainly via social media with no regulations. https://bloom.bg/2RTFfZs
9. Myanmar: BAT advertised for several job positions to expand its business While BAT is telling the world it is transforming by now offering reduced-risk products, in Myanmar it is expanding its business to sell more cigarettes. https://bit.ly/2rOlBmT
10. Vietnam: PMI attempted to shift control of its new tobacco products out of MOH jurisdiction

September 16: According to Deputy Head of Quality Standard Division 4, Vietnam Standards and Quality Institute, there is no exact identifier and regulation for new generation tobacco products. PMI said the standards body should establish standards on quality and safety for these new products and that PMI will support the relevant parties.


11. Malaysia: TI funded research on illicit trade used to oppose tax increase Oxford Economics report on illicit trade, funded by BAT, is used to discourage the government from increasing tobacco tax. Reason cited is the same routine explanation used by BAT – the high cost to purchase legal cigarettes is the main factor behind the rampant illegal cigarette trade in Malaysia. https://bit.ly/2spAb4v
12. Philippines: Foreign harm reduction proponents, make their rounds in Philippines Konstantinos Farsalinos and other e-cigarette proponents peddle their pro-industry positions in Asia discouraging governments from drawing up legislation to protect public health. This May, he warned Filipino officials against following the standards adopted by the US FDA. https://bit.ly/34raTjr
Counter Action
SEATCA challenges FSFW’s copycat smoke-free index

SEATCA exposes FSFW’s copycat smoke-free index which it trademarked in the US, EU, UK, and Switzerland.


Big Tobacco- Big deception AN exposé by SEATCA showed the tobacco industry is not transforming, registering new cigarette brands, and cigarettes sales form the bulk of its business. https://bit.ly/2LUOEfs
Thai court fined Philip Morris $39.7 million for tax evasion A Thai court found the local unit of Philip Morris International guilty of evading taxes by under-declaring the value of cigarettes it imported from the Philippines. It ordered the company to pay a fine of 1.2 billion baht ($39.7 million). https://bit.ly/38G3vEf
Cambodia advocates act to remove e-cigarette advertising on social media Cambodia Movement for Health monitored 34 Facebook pages and 12 YouTube channels that advertised and sold ENDS/HTPs online. CMH notified Facebook and YouTube channel administrators that advertising/selling ENDS/HTPs online is a violation of tobacco control law. Five Facebook pages and 1 YouTube channel removed ads and accounts.

Vietnam: TIM focal point alerts government agencies to remove TI-CSR news from media.

HealthBridge Vietnam sent information on CSR violation to the authorities in charge including Ministry of Information and Communication, Central Committee on Communication and Education of the Communist Party, and Editors of 11 Newspapers and 3 web portals with warning letters. Five newspapers and three web portals have removed their posts.


Let us know if you have other dirty tactics to report from your country. Exposing the industry is a good first step towards stopping its unethical practices.