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January 23, 2019

New report uncovers more than 100 think tanks were paid to promote tobacco industry interests

New York, USA: An exposé in The Guardian revealed covert financial and business links between the tobacco industry and a global network of business and economic think tanks that have played a key role in undermining tobacco control in dozens of countries.

José Luis Castro, President and CEO of Vital Strategies, has issued the following statement in reaction to these findings:

“The Guardian’s exposé makes it clear that tobacco companies have paid think tanks around the world to parrot tobacco industry messaging that derails health policies and perpetuates the global tobacco epidemic. According to The Guardian’s findings, at least 106 free-market think tanks across 24 countries have accepted donations from tobacco companies, argued against tobacco control policies, or both. At least 25 had been involved in campaigns to oppose tobacco taxes, at least 30 have opposed plain standardized packaging for tobacco products and at least 14 have contacted the FDA to support Philip Morris International’s application to sell its IQOS devices in the US.”

Note: Vital Strategies supports The Guardian’s reporting on the tobacco industry but does not have any input into editorial content or decisions, which are entirely independent and conducted under the newspaper’s published editorial guidelines.

About Vital Strategies’ work in tobacco control:

Tobacco kills more than 7 million people and generates global economic costs of nearly 2 trillion dollars every year. Vital Strategies works globally and in more than 40 countries to support the adoption of proven policies to reduce tobacco use. Our global team of experts use policy, advocacy and strategic communication to help governments adopt life-saving, public health “best buys” like comprehensive smokefree laws and high tobacco taxes. Our evidence-based public education campaigns – designed to encourage quitting, delay initiation, support policy goals like compliance with smoke-free laws and, over the long term, reduce the acceptability of smoking and change attitudes about the tobacco industry – have been seen by more than 2 billion people. We partner with American Cancer Society to produce The Tobacco Atlas, (sixth ed.) the most comprehensive report on the evolving global tobacco epidemic, and support production of WHO’s MPOWER reports. Vital Strategies is a main partner in the $1 billion Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use.

For more information Vital Strategies’ work in tobacco control, please visit:

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our programs reach into 73 countries and help prevent death and illness from noncommunicable disease, reduce harm caused by environmental factors, and support cities as engines for public health. We consult with governments on issues including restricting junk food marketing to kids, promoting smoke-free laws, improving indoor and outdoor air quality, and strengthening road safety. These are protections that can add up to millions of lives saved. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change.

To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.

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