Publication Details

Moerman, L. C. & van der Laan, S. (2003). Social reporting by the tobacco industry: all smoke and mirrors?. The 7th Interdisciplinary Perspectives On Accounting Conference (pp. 1-35). Spain: IPA.


In July 2002 British American Tobacco, one of the largest private multinational corporations involved in tobacco production and marketing, launched their first social report. Using a process of stakeholder engagement, global reporting initiatives and process auditing the report was delivered just before the release of the World Health Organisation initiative, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Within the corporate social reporting literature there is a belief that to give account serves as a legitimising device for organisational activity thus bridging the divide between the social and economic realm. The tobacco industry has been heavily criticised, particularly in Western society, for poor domestic as well as international social and environmental performance and is now facing control via global regulation. This paper serves to analyse the Social Report from a legitimating perspective as an attempt to redefine the tobacco industry and the corporations that operate within it as 'socially responsible'.