Globally Reported Tobacco Industry Interference during COVID-19 Pandemic – November 2021

From TobaccoUnmaskedSouth.Asia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This is a continuation of our page on Globally Reported Tobacco Industry Interference during COVID-19 Pandemic and summarises the incidents reported during the month of November 2021. This page will be continuously updated as and when incidents related to the respective month are reported.

The Summary of Interference Reported as of 30th November 2021

Table 1 summarises the incidents reported since 13th March 2020, the date of initiation of the first Lock Down in Sri Lanka, the day we started monitoring Globally Reported Tobacco Industry Interference during COVID-19 Pandemic.

Table 1: Summary of reported TII during COVID-19 Pandemic

Tobacco Company Reported Countries Number of Incidents
British American Tobacco (BAT) South Africa, United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK), Brazil, Kenya, Bangladesh, Croatia, Mexico, Nigeria, Honduras, Russia, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Greece, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Egypt, New Zealand, Philippines, Belarus, Belgium, Australia, Iran, Romania, Namibia, Pakistan, South Korea, Uzbekistan, Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, France, Japan, Myanmar 196
Philip Morris International (PMI) Brazil, Costa Rica, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Philippines, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Georgia, Russia, Canada, Burkina Faso, Denmark, Pennsylvania, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Japan, Astypalea, La Graciosa, United States, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Romania, Dubai, Australia 103
Altria group United Sates of America (USA), Canada, Switzerland 71
Japan Tobacco International (JTI) United Kingdom (UK), Bangladesh, Turkey, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Zambia, Japan, Romania, Germany, Cambodia, Greece, Iran, Luxembourg, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania, United State of America (USA) 72
Imperial Tobacco Russia, Egypt, Ukraine, Greece, Czech Republic, United States 33
ITC Limited India India 73
Korea Tobacco Ginseng Corporation (KT&G) Indonesia, Turkey, Russia, Armenia, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan 7
Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) Sri Lanka 12
Reynolds American United Sates of America (USA) 7
Universal Cooperation United Sates of America (USA) 2
VMR Products United Sates of America (USA) 2
RJ Reynolds Tobacco United Sates of America (USA) 5
Godfrey Phillips India India 4
DJarum Indonesia 2
PT HM Sampoerna Indonesia 1
Hongyunhonghe Tobacco (Group) - 2
7 HILLS Manikchand Products Private Limited India 2
Deccan Tobacco India 1
Vinataba Tobacco Company Vietnam 1
International Tobacco Company Nigeria 1
LT Group Philippines 1
China Tobacco China, Latin America 4
Gamucci United Kingdom, United States of America (USA), Asia and Africa 1
JUUL Labs United States of America (USA) 6
Swedish Match Sweden 3
Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC) Philippines 2
Ferio Tego Cigar Company United States of America (USA) 1
R.J Reynolds Vapor Company United States of America (USA) 1
Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation South Africa 1
Barco Trading Company Angola 1
Pan Africa Tobacco Group Angola 1
Company not specified or interference via Front Groups United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Malaysia, Australia, Lebanon, Senegal, Sri Lanka, France, Myanmar, India, Chile, South Africa, Kenya, Bhutan, Philippines, Greece 43

Week 86: 1st November – 7th November 2021

Tobacco industry is known for producing their own “evidence” and manipulate science to influence related public health policies and tobacco control actions.
  • Philip Morris International (PMI) declared their support for the UK government’s plan to issue medical license for electronic cigarettes and other inhaled nicotine containing products (NCPs). UK will become the first country in the world to issue e-cigarettes via a prescription as a medicine.[2]
Image 1: PMI declaring their support for the UK government’s plan to issue medical license for smoke free products.[2]
  • Philip Morris International (PMI) announced a “Low-Carbon Transition Plan (LCTP)”, reportedly a plan for environmental sustainability of the company, while shifting to heated tobacco products from the combustible cigarettes products. The statement further included that they are hoping to achieve carbon neutrality in operations by the year 2025.[3]
Plethora of evidence exist on how cigarettes and its manufacturing process negatively impact the environment including global warming and, thus, the human health.
  • Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a global network of investigative journalists exposing crime and corruption in the world, revealed that Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has introduced 66 new products containing a higher menthol level in 19 European countries, a few months prior to the menthol cigarette ban imposed in May 2020.[4]
  • Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has launched a new 50 g package of “Sterling Essential Rolling Tobacco” in UK reportedly due to increased demand for Roll Your Own (RYO) tobacco products.[5]
  • TA Securities Holdings, a stockbroking company that provides finance and investment research services, announced a revenue growth of 7.3% for British American Tobacco (BAT) Malaysia in the first 9 months of 2021. It further reported a 7% growth of cigarette sales volume in 2021 compared to 2020.[6]
  • British American Tobacco (BAT) Japan submitted a proposal to the ruling party of the government to increase tax on tobacco products in 2022 tax reformation. The request reportedly was to increase the tax on heated tobacco products in a lower rate than the cigarettes, as the BAT plans to shift their trade to heated products from the cigarettes.[7]
  • The head of public affairs and the company secretary of British American Tobacco (BAT) Bangladesh, Azizur Rahman, has been elected as the Senior Vice President of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries of Bangladesh (ICSB). ICSB is the “only recognised professional body to develop, promote and regulate the profession of Chartered Secretary in Bangladesh” as stated in their website.[8]
  • British American Tobacco (BAT) Bangladesh jointly won the first place in "President's Award for Industrial Development 2019" under the large industry category. The awards are reportedly conferred “for their contribution to the private sector, employment generation and economy of the country”. President Abdul Hamid is to attend the virtual award ceremony as reported by the media.[9]

Week 87: 8th November – 14th November 2021

  • British American Tobacco (BAT) South Africa accused the South African Revenue Service for not enforcing the policies against illicit tobacco trade in South Africa. This was reportedly following a request to increase the price of the brand “Rand 28” by BAT, allegedly aiming to differentiate the illicit product based on the price.[10]
Tobacco companies are known for their involvement in the illicit trade in many parts of the world. Please visit our page Ceylon Tobacco Misleading Shareholders: The Illicit Cigarettes Issue for more details.
  • ITC Infotech, an IT service subsidiary of ITC Limited India, partnered with Harvard Business School to introduce Infotech’s Work from Anywhere (I-WFA) framework, which is customer and employee based delivering platform.[11] ITC Limited India is the main tobacco company in India, which diversified their business into other ventures.
  • British American Tobacco (BAT) in Myanmar announced their plan of termination of operations at the end of the year 2021 reportedly due to “long-term operational and commercial viability of business”. BAT is the latest major multinational to leave Myanmar since its coup in February. Earlier in 2003, BAT was forced to leave Myanmar following the pressure of the civil society campaigns based on their dealings with the previous regime. BAT re-established its business in Myanmar in 2013.[12]
  • Gokhan Bilgic, British American Tobacco (BAT) Area Director in Turkey, Caucasus, and North Africa announced their plan to introduce new heated tobacco products at a press conference held in Egypt. This followed a meet up of the BAT area directors for Egypt, North Africa, Turkey, Cyprus, and the Caucasus in Egypt, in which they reportedly “discussed the company’s ambitious strategy and plan to achieve an impactful change in tobacco and nicotine products”. He further stated that “sustainability” is their main focus and appreciated the government of Egypt for its efforts, including legislative, to preserve the sustainability of the tobacco industry.[13]
  • Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) announced a reduction of profit before tax from Rs 8.5 billion to Rs 6.2 billion (27%) for the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of 2020. It also reported a reduced revenue of Rs.31.7 billion, a percentage reduction of 28.9%, compared to year 2020. Media report stated the reason for reduction is restrictions imposed for the third wave of the COVID pandemic in Sri Lanka.[14][15]
  • Jacek Olczak, CEO of Morris International (PMI), made a statement defying the media reports of a possibility of re-merging with Altria. PMI spun off from Altria in 2008 reaching overseas markets. Industry analysts predicted a possible re-merge based on the low sales of cigarettes and diversified business interests of Altria. [16]
  • US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) for a product under Verve oral nicotine brand, owned by the Altria Group. The US Smokeless Tobacco Company, a subsidiary of Altria, has stopped the trade of this product in 2018. It further reported that this product could help nicotine addicted persons in switching from combustible products to less harmful products.[17]
  • Media reported that Philip Morris International (PMI) moved its headquarters to Stamford, Connecticut in USA, as announced in June 2021. It further reported that PMI has signed a lease for 12 years and plan to occupy the premises in the latter part of the year 2022.[18] Media reported that elected officials, including the Governor Ned Lamont, welcomed PMI. It further reported that Mayor-elect Caroline Simmons has stated that “I'm really looking forward to working with Philip Morris to help you grow and expand in our state”.[19]
Article 5.3 of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recommends the governments to not have any partnership with the tobacco industry as such partnerships have a fundamental irreconcilable conflict of interest with public health.
Image 2: Media reporting that PMI’s move its headquarters to Stamford, Connecticut in USA. [19]
  • Media reported that Philip Morris International (PMI) met the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to argue against banning PMI and Altria from importing and selling Iqos (a heated tobacco product) devices in the US. The ban was based on two patent violations owned by Reynolds American, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco (BAT). The reported counter-argument was that “Iqos is unique, both in its design and ability, to convert smokers”.[20]
  • British American Tobacco (BAT) in Pakistan appointed BDigital, a digital media agency based in Pakistan, as the official advertising agency for their oral nicotine product brand ‘Velo”.[21]
  • A study report published by the Vital Strategies exposed tactics and the key messages used for online marketing by the bidi industry in India. It revealed that bidi were marketed exclusively via Facebook facilitating online sales by advertising with clear images of products.[22]
  • Teodoro Locsin, Foreign Affairs Secretary in Philippines, expressed his support for heated tobacco products claiming reduced harm and “equal satisfaction”. He made this statement at the ninth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) as a representative of the Philippine delegation.[23]
  • British American Tobacco (BAT) in Malaysia announced a plan for a “mid-market range” price for their vaping brand ‘Vuse’. This was following a new “Prosperity Tax” that would increase the tax expenditure from 27% to 31% of the company. The same report announced a revenue and a volume growth for the product, reportedly due to “firmer trans-shipment regulations”, and their intention to lead the market in three years. Currently the reported market share for the product was 10%.[24]

Week 88: 15th November – 21th November 2021

  • ITC Limited India announced the opening of its second luxury hotel branded “Mementos” Jaipur.[25] ITC Limited India is the main tobacco company in India, which diversified their business into other ventures.
  • Darren Millar, a Welsh Politician representing Conservative Party, was accused of hosting an event sponsored by Japan Tobacco International (JTI). Media quoted Miller describing the event as “it would focus on the problem of cheap, illegal tobacco on sale in Wales”. John Griffiths, The chair of the Senedd, the cross party group on smoking and health, declared that he was “disappointed and concerned” because the event was allowed to happen. ASH Wales also opposed to the event highlighting the fact that it would violate FCTC Article 5.3. [26]
Article 5.3 of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recommends against governments having any partnership with the tobacco industry as it has a fundamental irreconcilable conflict of interest with public health.
  • Philip Morris International (PMI) announced the appointment of new staff “to lead the company toward a smoke-free product base”. The statement further reported that PMI aims to achieve carbon neutrality to combat climate change.[27]
Tobacco cultivation and manufacturing are major activities that damage the environment and contribute to climate change.
  • Lovemore Manatsa, Chairperson of British American Tobacco (BAT) in Zimbabwe, announced an increase of volume growth in the first nine months of 2021 by 32% compared to the same period in 2020. He mentioned increased consumer demand, increased exportation of cut rag tobacco and relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions as reasons for this growth.[28]
  • The European Business Summit was planned to be held on 17th and 18th November under the partnership of Japan Tobacco International (JTI) with the participation of EU commissioners. According to its website, the European Business Summits is “a renowned organisation that creates and supports networking and debating events in Brussels, to bring business and politics together and to stimulate thinking on the most challenging European issues”. Civil society organisations objected to the partnership and requested EU commissioners not to participate in this summit.[29]
  • McDonald’s India partnered with ITC Limited India to introduce ITC fruit products to the Happy Meal, which targets children. This was announced as “delighting its young customers in a unique way – by giving a wholesome refresh to everyone’s favourite Happy Meal” to celebrate its 25th operating year in India.[30]
ITC Limited India is the main tobacco company in India, which had diversified their business into other ventures. McDonald’s is a chain of fast food restaurants headquartered in Illinois, USA. Media reported that they decided to replace the happy meal toy with recyclable material by 2025 to reduce the use of plastics globally. This was amidst the objections of public health advocates in promoting unhealthy food for children by enticing them with toys.[31]
  • Tommaso Di Giovanni, Vice President for Market Activation and Support of Philip Morris International (PMI), was awarded the Gold Award for "Communications Individual of the Year" at the 11th Annual 2021 Communications Excellence Awards. This is reportedly awarded by the organisers of the Globee Awards, a scheme of business awards, consisting of eleven award programmess “to honor and recognise industry-wide and peer achievements and best efforts” in various sectors according to their website.[32]
  • Marina Bellini, Director of Digital and Information of British American Tobacco (BAT), was awarded the European Digital Leaders award in the business to consumer category. This is reportedly awarded by CIONET International, a company that provides IT management services, “to celebrate the accomplishments of all finalists and to highlight Europe’s top Digital Leaders in four categories”. It further reported that Marina is also nominated for MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Awards. [33]
  • British American Tobacco (BAT) in Australia has hired private investigators to gather information on illicit trade to hand over to Police in Queensland. Media reported that there are around 70 illicit tobacco-selling stores in Queensland, which is not a criminal offence as per the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act. As of January 2022, the Australian Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act does not cover the illicit tobacco sales. [34]
Tobacco companies are known for their involvement in the illicit trade in many parts of the world. Please visit our page Ceylon Tobacco Misleading Shareholders: The Illicit Cigarettes Issue for more details.
  • British American Tobacco (BAT) Bangladesh conducted a workshop for sugarcane farmers titled “sustainable models of sugarcane cultivation”. The officials of the Ministry of Industries, Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation and Bangladesh Sugar crop Research Institute representatives also participated in the workshop.[35]
Article 5.3 of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recommends the governments to not have any partnership with the tobacco industry. Such partnerships have a fundamental irreconcilable conflict of interest with public health.
Image 3: Media reporting the presence of government officials at the workshop. [35]

Week 89: 22nd November – 28th November 2021

  • A US District Court judge in Texas gave permission to four tobacco companies; R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Philip Morris USA, ITG Brands LLC and Liggett Group LLC to delay implementation of the new warning labels on cigarettes packs. This was following the joint motion submitted by the four companies. It is reportedly the sixth delay of implementation from 18 June 2021 claiming “irreparable harm because none of them will be compensable by money damages should the rule and/or graphic warnings requirement in the Tobacco Control Act be invalidated.” The new warnings labels required color graphics depicting health harms of smoking to accompany new textual warning statements recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration. In the new required labels, graphic warnings are designed to cover the top 50% of the front and back of cigarette packs, as well as at least 20% of the top of tobacco advertisements. According to FDA, the new 11 images “depict some of the lesser-known, but serious health risks of cigarette smoking,” such as sexual impotence, risk of blindness, lower blood flow to extremities and Type 2 diabetes.[36]
Article 11 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recommends graphic health warnings of 50% of more covering principal display areas of cigarette packs. Tobacco industry is known for using litigation to delay implementation of effective tobacco control policies and actions. Please visit our page Ceylon Tobacco Legally Challenging Pictorial Health Warnings in Cigarette Packs for more details.
  • JUUL Labs has agreed to pay USD 14.5 million to the State of Arizona and to suspend the sales to youngsters as part of the settlement of the lawsuit against them on targeting the youth through various tactics. JUUL labs further agreed to suspend online sales and to implement a monitoring system of retailers to discover the illegal under aged sales.[37]
  • British American Tobacco (BAT) Bangladesh was awarded as one of the top taxpayers of the country for the tax year 2020-21 by the National Board of Revenue (NBR). [38]
The estimated health care costs related to tobacco including productivity loss due to premature deaths and tobacco related diseases in Bangladesh was Bangladeshi Taka 305.6 billion (approx. USD 3.62 billion) in 2018-2019. The total contribution of the tobacco to the government was estimated as Bangladeshi Taka 229.1 billion in 2016-2017, showing a significant net economic loss in Bangladesh. Further, Article 5.3 of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recommends against governments having interactions with the tobacco industry that would promote their image.
Plethora of evidence have revealed that cigarettes and its manufacturing process negatively impact the environment including global warming and, thus, the human health.
Image 4: Media reporting the BAT construction of factory with solar facilities [44]

TobaccoUnmasked Resources

Notes

  1. S L White and M Daube. Vigilance needed to stop new wave of tobacco company promotion, 1 November 2021, accessed November 2021
  2. 2.0 2.1 Business wire. Philip Morris International Applauds U.K. Government’s Approach to Achieve its Smoke-Free Ambition, 2 November 2021, accessed November 2021
  3. J Motles. A Smoke-Free, Carbon-Neutral Future: PMI’s Plan to Accelerate Climate Goals While Transforming Its Business, 7 November 2021, accessed November 2021
  4. A Ciurcanu and A Cerantola. Japan Tobacco International Making a Mint by Circumventing Menthol Cigarette Ban, 2 November 2021, accessed November 2021
  5. Convenience Store. JTI adds 50g format to Sterling Essential RYO range, 2 November 2021, accessed November 2021
  6. NST Business. Legal ciggies market pick up bodes well for BAT Malaysia, 1 November 2021, accessed November 2021
  7. The Japan Times. In unusual move, tobacco-maker requests higher tax on cigarettes, 4 November 2021, accessed November 2021
  8. TBS Report. Azizur Rahman made ICSB senior vice president, 4 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  9. The Daily Star. 19 firms to get president’s industrial award today, 4 November 2021, accessed November 2021
  10. V Mokhoali. BAT SA Says Sars Unwilling to Act Again Illicit Cigarette Trade, 11 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  11. ITC Infotech. ITC Infotech in association with Harvard Business School reimagines the future of work; unveils its Work from Anywhere framework, 10 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  12. Myanmar Now. British American Tobacco announces its departure from Myanmar, again, 13 October 2-21, accessed December 2021
  13. Daily New Egypt. British American Tobacco aims to make impactful change in tobacco, nicotine products, 11 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  14. Daily FT. COVID third wave cuts CTC revenue, profit by 28%, 11 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  15. Daily Mirror. CTC 3Q goes up in smoke as lockdowns hit cigarette sales, 12 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  16. J R Blackwell. Report: Philip Morris International will not pursue merger with Henrico-based Altria Group, 10 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  17. M McGrady. FDA Approves PMTA Of Discontinued Altria Product, 9 November 2021, accessed November 2021
  18. K R Gosselin. Philip Morris move to Stamford bodes well for attracting more companies to Connecticut’s fastest-growing city, 8 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  19. 19.0 19.1 R Kaufman. Gov. Lamont Welcomes Philip Morris International To Stamford, 8 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  20. A Lucas. Philip Morris International meets with FDA to make its case for Iqos in patent dispute, 8 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  21. H Henry. BDigital Appointed by British American Tobacco to Head up Digital for Velo, 8 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  22. Vital Strategies. Selling Death on Social Media: How Bidis Are Reaching Consumers Online, November 2021, accessed November 2021
  23. Vera Files. Philippine government promotes tobacco industry interests at global health forum; civil society outraged, 10 November 2021, accessed November 2021
  24. The Star. BAT Malaysia to price vape brand in mid-market range, 9 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  25. S Sinha. Band, baaja, luxury: After Udaipur, Jaipur to also get ITC's new luxury brand ‘Mementos’, 16 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  26. W Hayward. Welsh Conservative MS criticised for hosting tobacco company event at the Senedd, 16 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  27. M McGrady. PMI Names New Consumer Execs, Commits To Carbon Neutrality, 15 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  28. A Vinga. BAT Hails Exchange Rates as Exports Grow By 44%, 15 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  29. E S Nicolas. EU officials urged to boycott event with tobacco partnership, 17 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  30. FnBnew.com McDonald’s Happy Meal gets a wholesome refresh with ITC’s B Natural Mixed Fruit & cup of hot corn, 20 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  31. H Russ. McDonald's Happy Meal toys to go green globally by 2025, 22 September 2021, accessed January 2022
  32. Market Screener. Philip Morris International : PMI's Tommaso Di Giovanni wins “Communications Individual of the Year” at the 2021 Globee Awards, 19 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  33. Market Screener. British American Tobacco : Digital award highlights our A Better Tomorrow™ transformation, 19 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  34. P Doneman, A Horn. Illicit tobacco trade in Queensland 'exploding' with authorities powerless to stop it, industry groups say, 20 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  35. 35.0 35.1 New Age Bangladesh. Workshop on sugarcane cultivation held in Kushtia, 19 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  36. R Craver. Cigarette warning labels delayed to January 2023, 27 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  37. N Weixel. Juul will pay $14.5 million to settle Arizona lawsuit, 24 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  38. Tribune Desk. BAT Bangladesh named top taxpayer again, 25 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  39. ICB World News. ITC Charmis announces Kiara Advani as its new Brand Ambassador, 23 December 2021, accessed December 2021
  40. The Citizen. TCC celebrating 60 glorious years, 26 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  41. IA Dutt. All channels except wholesale higher than pre-Covid levels: ITC's B Sumant, 22 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  42. Business wire. Philip Morris International’s ESG Performance Recognized by S&P Dow Jones Indices; Company Included in Dow Jones Sustainability Index North America for Second Consecutive Year, 22 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  43. CAN Newswire. Egypt's Cloud Leaders Virtually Connect to Push for Sustainable Cloud Transformation for the Country at World Cloud Show, 22 November 2021, accessed December 2021
  44. 44.0 44.1 K Jae-heun. BAT Sacheon Factory kicks off green solar power generation, 23 November 2021, accessed December 2021