There were alterations in country performances: Zambia and Tanzania top the list in Africa with the highest level of tobacco industry interference on almost all indicators among the fourteen countries in 2021; as compared to the ranking of countries in the 2020 global index. Ethiopia dropped by 17% (from 42 to 49), and although modest, Ghana improved in 2021 (from 58 to 56).
Increased CSR enabled interaction with governments: The tobacco industry stepped up corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The industry exploited opportunities provided by the pandemic to engage with government bodies and capitalized on the vulnerability of several African governments facing a shortage of resources during the pandemic.
Policy development was influenced: Zambia, Tanzania and Nigeria had the highest tobacco industry influences on governments in policy development.
Dealings with the tobacco industry were not transparent: Despite countries putting procedures in place to guide officials to report all meetings with the tobacco industry, a lack of transparency persisted to facilitate deals with the tobacco industry and was most significant in Zambia, Senegal, Mozambique and Cote d’Ivoire.
The industry received privileges from governments: The tobacco industry benefitted through incentives from governments in many African countries. Tanzania, South Africa, Ethiopia, Gabon and Zambia top the list and received a variety of benefits including delays in tax increment or tax breaks for the industry, “endorsement” of sponsorships and promotion of the tobacco industry.
Countries continued to maintain unnecessary interactions with the industry: The tobacco industry, in at least five countries, engaged high levels of unnecessary interactions with government. These took the form of trade and partnerships, enforcement of laws, social activities and economic development agenda.
Governments do not adequately address conflicts of interest: There are instances of current and former public officials working for and in the interest of the tobacco industry. The industry influences public policy through what is dubbed a “revolving door”, where former or current government officials take up jobs in the tobacco industry and vice versa.
Countries need adequate measures to prevent industry interference: Botswana made progress by publishing its tobacco control law which prohibits collaboration with the tobacco industry. Countries such as Zambia, Tanzania, Senegal, and Mozambique have neglected to firewall their tobacco control efforts and have been particularly vulnerable to high levels of industry interference. No formal procedures to disclose and record interactions with the tobacco industry and its representatives exist.