BAT accused of undue influence to undermine tobacco control efforts

Summary

  • Watchdog says BAT gave cash and cars to dozens of politicians, civil servants, journalists as well as people working at competitor companies to help influence and secure health policies that favour their business activities in key African countries.
  • The whistleblower documents connected to BAT’s questionable dealings in East and Central Africa revealed evidence of payments made in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Comoros, DR Congo, Malawi and Zambia.

Allegations of top level bribery, use of questionable dealings to market illness-causing tobacco-related illness, death and economic harm across Africa

Cigarette maker British American Tobacco (BAT) is being accused of using financial inducements to undermine tobacco control efforts in Africa.

According to global tobacco industry watchdog, STOP, BAT gave cash (per diems, campaign donations) and cars to dozens of politicians, civil servants, journalists as well as people working at competitor companies to help influence and secure health policies that favour their business activities in key African countries.

Two new analyses of whistleblower documents and court records by the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath and published by STOP, suggest that BAT allegedly used payments to dozens of individuals and potentially unlawful surveillance to tighten its market grip on Africa.

The reports—one on the company’s activities in several East and Central African countries, another on its aggressive tactics in South Africa — reveal that BAT appeared to be operating “as if it were above the law,” according to the report on South Africa, to sell cigarettes — products known to cause tobacco-related illness, death and economic harm — across the region.

The whistleblower documents connected to BAT’s questionable dealings in East and Central Africa revealed evidence of payments made in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Comoros, DR Congo, Malawi and Zambia. Researchers identified 236 payments made between 2008 and 2013 totalling $601,502 allegedly used to influence policy and sabotage competitors.

Source: The East African

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