UK indicted of pomposity on abroad tobacco control

Sat 27 Jan 2018

Last mutated on Sun 28 Jan 2018

British American Tobacco during a New York Stock Exchange.
Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

The UK supervision is lobbying on interest of UK-based tobacco giants handling overseas, notwithstanding spending millions of pounds perplexing to quell smoking rates abroad.

Freedom of information requests exhibit that a Foreign Office and a Department for International Trade have been championing a interests of British American Tobacco. This is notwithstanding a supervision being forced to pull adult new discipline for UK embassy staff after it emerged in 2012 that a UK envoy had been lobbying a Panama supervision on interest of BAT.

The disclosures exhibit that in a past 4 years FO and DIT staff met with British American Tobacco 9 times to plead a long-running taxation brawl with a Bangladesh government.

In Hungary, in Mar 2015, a UK supervision trade confidant was seconded “for a few days” to BAT HQ in Budapest and subsequently to a bureau in Pécs. In Dec 2014 a afterwards envoy wrote to a Hungarian economy apportion about a “proposed health grant concerns” of BAT, a anxiety to a taxation on tobacco companies formed on their turnover, that BAT regards as “discriminatory”. In Apr 2015 a afterwards envoy met a apportion for unfamiliar affairs “and lifted BAT’s concerns about supervision tobacco process impacting their serve investment skeleton in Hungary, following BAT’s ask to him [in] Mar 2015”.

In Panama there were 6 meetings between BAT and embassy staff, including dual BAT “receptions”.

The ubiquitous trade dialect also had 25 meetings involving BAT Venezuela, mostly around a house of a Venezuelan and British chambers of commerce. Three contacts were disclosed in Poland, one with a envoy and dual with a behaving DIT director.

The records of one hit exhibit that “BAT … were privately meddlesome in organising a assembly with Polish supervision stakeholders dedicated to doing of a Tobacco Directive” and “shaping a dig process in propinquity to e-cigarettes. The association was penetrating to be concerned in formulating a regulatory horizon that will concede for effective dig taxation collection”.

And in Laos, a ubiquitous manager of Lao Tobacco, that is owned by another British tobacco giant, Imperial, sits on a British Business Group and a European Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with that British embassy staff “have unchanging contact”.

The expelled information raises questions about a government’s proceed to tobacco control. The UK has invested £15m in appropriation a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that promotes lifting taxes on cigarettes in low- and middle-income countries that are now targeted by large tobacco since smoking rates are disappearing in grown states. “Britain is a universe personality in implementing tough and effective measures to umpire and control a tobacco industry, and as a outcome a smoking rates have plummeted,” pronounced Deborah Arnott, arch executive of a health gift Ash (Action on Smoking and Health).

“The supervision has publicly committed support to assistance poorer countries to follow a example. But behind a scenes a embassies are still assisting UK-based tobacco manufacturers to foster their fatal business and to conflict supervision regulation.

“The word pomposity frequency does it justice. We are saving lives during home and compelling genocide abroad.”

The embassies’ proceed is unchanging with a 2011 bloc supervision plan that pushed for them to do some-more to foster UK business interests abroad. With Brexit opening adult a probability of new trade deals, health campaigners trust that embassy staff might come underneath vigour to do some-more to assistance foster a tobacco attention – that creates billions for a exchequer.

However, a Foreign Office orator pronounced it took a obligations to strengthen open health policies in propinquity to tobacco really seriously.

“Interactions with a tobacco attention are usually available where necessary, and we do not concede a staff to inspire investment in a tobacco industry, or yield any assistance in assisting tobacco companies change internal business policies like taxation to their advantage.”

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