Insight: Pakistan diluted proposed tobacco health warnings after Philip Morris, BAT lobbying

29 May 2018

ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Philip Morris International Inc and British American Tobacco Plc lobbied Pakistan’s government to not implement bigger health warnings on cigarette packs, in what officials say was part of an industry-wide campaign that successfully persuaded Islamabad to water down a proposal designed to save lives.

This investigation exposes how the Prime Ministerʻs office and the Ministry of Finance were lobbied to water down a requirement to increase the size of health warnings, from 85 percent of the cigarette pack to 65 percent. In letters written by Philip Morris executives to the Prime Minister’s Office in 2017, and internal company documents describing a meeting in 2015 at which executives discussed “protecting the pack” in Pakistan. PMI had also used the US-Pakistan Business Council (US-PBC) as a platform to influence tobacco policy on illicit trade, a reference then utilised to exert influence on graphic health warnings on cigarette packs.

This expose stresses the need for a whole-of-government approach to enforcing FCTC Article 5.3 guidelines and good governance such as transparency in tobacco control.