Publication Details

This article was originally published as Moerman, LC and Van der Laan, S, WHO's looking after the tobacco industry, Journal of the Asia Pacific Centre for Environmental Accountability, 9(3), 2003, 16-19. Original journal available here.


On 21st May 2003, after four years of negotiation, the World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Once ratified this framework convention will ultimately constrain the activities of the tobacco industry globally. In light of increasing litigation and exposure of the industry’s strategies to maintain profitability, will the tobacco industry remain quiescent on this further threat to their legitimacy? A weapon in the tobacco industry’s armoury is to redefine the public policy agenda via a legitimate forum. This can include eliciting debate in any credible forum and in doing so, attempt to validate all points of view (Davidson, 1991), This legitimating forum can include corporate social reporting (CSR) (Deegan, 2002), as practised by British American Tobacco in 2001/2002, an exemplar for an industry dominated by several large multinational corporations (Davidson, 1991: Sethi &Steidlmeier, 1991).