A report exposing the use of allies by tobacco multinationals for their benefit was launched on Friday 29 January 2021 in Lagos, Nigeria. Prepared by Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), with support from the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA), the report titled The Big Tobacco Allies – How tobacco companies use intermediaries to foster their corporate social responsibility initiatives and promote their image in Nigeria, documents a series of instances where tobacco multinationals use intermediaries to foster their efforts to undermine implementation of the WHO FCTC. It also maps tobacco industry allies and exposes how tobacco companies use them to clean their image and grow their business.
The report, which was produced after a survey on the use of intermediaries by the tobacco industry in Nigeria, reveals amongst other issues, that tobacco multinationals undertake partnerships with the government, and several entities organize events and implement programs that promote tobacco industry initiatives. It also reveals that entities provide technical and/or intellectual support to the tobacco industry, front groups launder tobacco industry image through social development engagements, and tobacco companies hide behind front groups to promote educational initiatives. It highlights the fact that front groups whitewash tobacco industry image through environmental projects, and that tobacco companies use fronts to organise trainings and seminars, while also exposing tobacco multinationals’ use front groups to undertake unnecessary interactions with government officials.
Speaking during the launch of the report, the Executive Secretary of the African Tobacco Control Alliance, Leonce Sessou said the tobacco industry is the cause of the over eight million deaths caused by its products globally each year, sometimes using illegal means to market tobacco products with the ultimate objective to make profits. He called on stakeholders to join efforts to stop the use of intermediaries by the tobacco industry in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “Tobacco industry interference is a major challenge to effective tobacco control. The TakeApart Nigeria Report is a vital tool that will enable the Nigerian government and public health advocates to identify and plug loopholes that the tobacco industry and its allies and front groups have exploited to interfere in public health policy.”