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QUIT the Tobacco Industry

2 June 2021

The global tobacco control community galvanized activities around WHO’s World No Tobacco Day to focus on the theme “Commit to Quit”. Numerous activities were/are being conducted, and statements made on quitting tobacco all around the world. SEATCA’s campaign focused on the specific theme, #QuitTheTobaccoIndustry

The tobacco industry has no place in a country’s development. We need to beware of this industry’s deception and manipulation. How does the tobacco industry manipulate governments? How can governments, communities, and individuals protect themselves from the predatory tobacco industry? TheUnfilteredTruth exposes the industry’s manipulation and harm and why it must be rejected at all costs. See here for the campaign:

Meanwhile during this World No Tobacco Day season, the tobacco industry and its sympathizers are predictably taking attention away from the QUIT messages and undermining efforts of public health. Here are a few examples of the misinformation, attacks on WHO and promotion of pro-industry messages on vaping – basically anything to keep it in business and stop people from quitting tobacco altogether.

  1. Tobacco industry complains there are still 1.1 billion smokers

The tobacco industry expresses ‘concern’ about the 1.1 billion smokers in the world addicted to nicotine, then goes on to cherry picks sentences from a report to show why the WHO FCTC is not working.  

Today, because of the WHO FCTC, country after country that have fought-off industry interference and implemented tobacco control measures, are showing declines in smoking prevalence, such as Australia, Brunei, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam which present a nightmare for the tobacco industry. Countries around the world are illustrating, when the tobacco industry screams or attacks, you know you are doing the right thing.

  1. Attacking and discrediting the WHO

Pro-vaping commentator, Clive Bates continued his attacks on WHO accusing it of having “gone rogue on tobacco policy” while obscuring that he actively supported the WHO and the FCTC when it was being negotiated. He was also the main author of Danger! PR in the playground, an exposé on how the tobacco companies adopt a public posture of opposition to teenage smoking and why this is a sinister and cynical public relations strategy.

In 2000, Bates, then Director of ASH in the UK said: “They come at developing country governments with a seductive package of responsible smoking, reasonable marketing and money to burn ­ but what they really want is to head off any meaningful regulation or health policy. Governments that fall into this trap and co-operate or join forces with BAT or Philip Morris are basically handing over their young people to addiction, misery and early death at the hands of the tobacco industry.”

It is the same strategy now, except the industry’s “package” has transposed to vaping and heated tobacco products.

  1. Trying to legalize tobacco’s charity during the pandemic

Riding on the pandemic and exploiting the vulnerability of governments and the health sector, the tobacco industry handed out charity to public agencies, hospitals and enforcement officers although several countries in the ASEAN region have outlawed this type of CSR. In some countries the charity was coursed through high profile organizations who dignified these charitable acts and provided a shield for the tobacco industry.

In the Philippines, the civil servants such as from the health agencies, public hospitals and the police found themselves receiving the tobacco industry’s charity. Under normal circumstances they are protected by the Civil Service Commission-Department of Health (CSC-DOH) Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC-2010-01), and are not allowed to endorse these activities.

Meanwhile lawmakers are considering a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Act of 2019 that aims to encourage good deeds by offering rewards and recognition to companies. This bill is a “trojan horse”, and if approved will remove the firewall around government officials, increasing the risk of big tobacco influencing policy and tampering with tobacco regulation.


  1. Promoting pro-industry science on vaping

Tobacco executive, David O’Reilly, who started with BAT in 1989, has championed the harm reduction issue for BAT and dismissed the dangers of nicotine through misleading statements as documented by TobaccoTactics. In 2013, O’Reilly had said “nicotine is good for you” and that smoking an e-cigarette “was as safe as drinking a cup of coffee.” 

In reality, nicotine is a poison and according to the British Royal College of Physicians, a powerfully addictive drug.  Malaysia’s Poison Act has classified nicotine as a class c poison and hence a license is required to sell this poison.

O’Reilly is still continuing his company’s misinformation about nicotine with the message, “vaping is less harmful than smoking” and hence should maximise this harm reduction by getting smokers to switch to vapor products. On 1 June, to blow vapor on WNTD’s and public health community’s messages calling on the world to quit, BAT released its review of vaping science.

See here for SEATCA’s FAQ on ENDS/HTPs.

For video on #Theunfilteredtruth see: