Philip Morris International uses All Africa Group to influence the mediaACTA
On 7 July 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the sale of IQOS Tobacco Heating System through a premarket tobacco product application pathway. The agency says it is placing stringent marketing restrictions on the products in an effort to prevent youth access and exposure.
Manufactured by Philip Morris International, the tobacco multinational has invested heavily on the marketing of the product as a “less harmful” alternative to conventional cigarettes. PMI has made several frantic efforts to gain acceptance of IQOS around the world, but this mission has been fruitless in most cases.
The African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) alerts that PMI is using the US endorsement of the product to intensify efforts to create a favorable environment for IQOS in Africa. To do this, the tobacco multinational is engaging activities to influence media professionals using the All Africa media group. In an email to journalists from several African countries, All Africa group hails the FDA ruling and calls on journalists to exploit it for their media productions. All Africa is known to mobilize the tobacco-industry funded Réseau des Journalistes Observateurs de l’Industrie de la Nicotine et du Tabac – REJOINT (Network of Journalists Observing the Nicotine and Tobacco Industry).
It is important to note that unlike most African countries, the United States is not a party to the WHO FCTC and therefore has no obligations to conform to standard tobacco control recommendations. It is therefore not appropriate to relate the FDA’s decision to Africa.
ATCA calls on governments, CSOs and journalists to be watchful of this tobacco industry interference initiative and work to ensure that Africa does not become a hotspot for new technology tobacco products which is clearly the objective of this tobacco industry move.