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Africa: Investigation reveals tobacco firms allegedly threatening efforts that could save millions from harmful effects of tobacco use; companies comment

Multinational tobacco firms have threatened governments in Africa demanding they axe or dilute the kind of protections that have saved millions of lives in the west, a Guardian investigation has found. Various companies mentioned in the investigation have commented on the allegations. [Refers to British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris International & Matermind Tobacco]

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Article
12 July 2017

British American Tobacco allegedly blocking regulatory attempts to limit smoking-related harm in Kenya & Uganda; company comments

Author: Paul Redfern, Business Daily (Kenya)

"BAT on the spot again over 'unjustified' business practices in Kenya, Uganda"

British American Tobacco (BAT) has...been accused of using unjustified practices to dilute plans to limit sales of its products in Kenya...”According to the report, BAT, one of the world’s leading cigarette manufacturers, is using the courts “to try to block the Kenyan and Ugandan governments’ attempts to bring in regulations to limit the harm caused by smoking.” With sales in Europe and the US plummeting, the tobacco companies are looking to Africa which has a fast-growing young and increasingly prosperous population to boost sales...

The Guardian claims that...BAT’s lawyers are demanding that the High Court “quash in its entirety” a package of anti-smoking regulations and what it calls a “capricious” tax plan. The case is now before the Supreme Court after BAT Kenya lost in the High Court and the appeals court...In neighbouring Uganda, BAT has claimed that Kampala’s Tobacco Control Act is “inconsistent with and in contravention of the constitution”. The report also claims that the company is targeting children in its attempts to gain new sales, a claim BAT strongly deny...

At its annual meeting in March, chairman Richard Burrows was asked about the legal action in East Africa. He said tobacco was an industry that “should be regulated ... but we want to see that regulation is serving the correct interests of the health mission and human mission which should lie behind it”. BAT says it is “simply not true that we oppose all tobacco regulation, particularly in developing countries”.

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Article
18 July 2017

Tobacco firms using intimidatory tactics to attempt to suppress health warnings & regulation

Author: Sarah Boseley, The Guardian (UK)

"Threats, bullying, lawsuits: tobacco industry's dirty war for the African market"

British American Tobacco (BAT) and other multinational tobacco firms have threatened governments in at least eight countries in Africa demanding they axe or dilute the kind of protections that have saved millions of lives in the west, a Guardian investigation has found. BAT, one of the world’s leading cigarette manufacturers, is fighting through the courts to try to block the Kenyan and Ugandan governments’ attempts to bring in regulations to limit the harm caused by smoking. The giant tobacco firms hope to boost their markets in Africa, which has a fast-growing young and increasingly prosperous population...

BAT says it is “simply not true that we oppose all tobacco regulation, particularly in developing countries”. Tobacco should be appropriately regulated as a product that has risks to health, it said, but “where there are different interpretations of whether regulations comply with the law, we think it is entirely reasonable to ask the courts to assist in resolving it”. It was opposed to only a handful of the issues in Kenya’s regulations, not the entirety, it said in a statement.

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