Global public health efforts to reduce smoking are at odds with the interests of the tobacco industry. According to a case study published in the online open access journal Globalization and Health, competing tobacco companies co-operate via a global network of national and regional manufacturing associations to undermine public health measures to counter smoking.
Patricia McDaniel, Gina Intinarelli and Ruth Malone from the University of California, San Francisco dug deep into documentary data from tobacco industry documents archives. Their case study, which maps globally tobacco industry-linked groups known as "issues management organizations," draws upon previously secret tobacco industry documents and details some of the strategies these bodies used.
The International Committee on Smoking Issues (ICOSI) was formed in 1977 by seven tobacco company chief executives to create common anti-tobacco control strategies and build a global network of regional and national manufacturing associations. Later renamed INFOTAB, multinational companies built the organization rapidly: by 1984, it had 69 members operating in 57 countries.
According to the authors, INFOTAB material, including position papers and "action kits" helped members challenge local tobacco control measures and maintain tobacco-friendly environments. In 1992 INFOTAB was replaced by two smaller organizations: The Tobacco Documentation Centre, which continues to operate, distributes smoking-related information and industry argumentation to members, some produced by cross-company committees. Agro-Tobacco Services, and now Hallmark Marketing Services, assists the INFOTAB-backed and industry supported International Tobacco Growers Association in promoting tobacco's economic importance in developing nations.
"Policymakers should be aware that although these associations claim to represent only national or regional interests, they are allied to and coordinated with a confederation of trans-national tobacco companies seeking to protect profits by undermining public health," says Ruth Malone. "Cigarette manufacturers and their attorneys played the biggest role. Under their explicit direction, INFOTAB set policies and crafted strategies that ensured that the global tobacco community spoke and acted as one."
Tobacco is the second major cause of death worldwide, with 84% of smokers living in developing and transitional economy countries. Litigation against the tobacco industry led to the public release of over 47 million pages of internal industry documents housed in paper depositories and online electronic archives.
Notes to Editors:
1. Tobacco industry issues management organizations: Creating a global corporate network to undermine public health
Patricia A McDaniel, Gina Intinarelli and Ruth E Malone
Globalization and Health (in press)
During embargo, article available at:
After the embargo, article available at journal website:
Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.
Article citation and URL available on request at email@example.com on the day of publication
2. Globalization and Health is an Open Access, peer-reviewed, online journal that provides a platform for research, knowledge sharing and debate on the topic of globalization and its effects on health, both positive and negative. The journal is affiliated with the London School of Economics (LSE Health).
3. BioMed Central (www.biomedcentral.com) is an independent online publishing house committed to providing immediate access without charge to the peer-reviewed biological and medical research it publishes. This commitment is based on the view that open access to research is essential to the rapid and efficient communication of science.