Voice of truth: Multinational Tobacco Industry activity in the Middle East: A review of internal industry documents
Voice of truth: Multinational Tobacco Industry activity in the Middle East: A review of internal industry documents by Ross Hammond and Celia White, produced for the World Health Organization. 38 pp.
Summary of published paper:
This paper examines tobacco industry documents which reveal evidence that the tobacco industry colluded in the Middle East to “promote and defend” the interests of these companies in the region. The companies carefully monitored and sought to undermine their health advocacy opponents in the Middle East, including the Arab Gulf Health Ministers’ Conference, the World Health Organization and national tobacco control coalitions. By the mid-1980s, the companies had set up “a major network of information sources and resources through which to lobby the appropriate officials” in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Tobacco industry documents show that the companies enlisted prominent political figures in the Middle East to provide information and lobby for them, including an Egyptian member of Parliament, a former Assistant Secretary General of the Arab League and even, at one point, the Secretary General of the GCC Health Ministers who was also the Kuwaiti Under-Secretary for Health. The tobacco industry spent a great deal of time in the GCC cultivating the media, which they viewed as indispensable to their ability to communicate to both policymakers and the public. Aside from overt and covert lobbying of media owners and senior editors, tobacco companies also engaged in a sophisticated campaign to plant pro-tobacco articles in the regions newspapers. This strategy was employed in numerous attempts to defeat or amend proposed restrictions on tobacco advertising. In country after country, the companies engaged in concerted campaigns to defeat ad ban proposals or water them down. This often involved the use of third parties to lobby policymakers, including the International Advertisers’ Association, distributors and friendly media owners.